You know how it happens on the web…you click on an interesting title, then read a moving article, investigate the author’s bio, peruse the books he or she has written, and before you know it, 90 minutes have passed, and you can’t remember how you ended up clicking “buy now” on Amazon.
That’s how I discovered, Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith by Jon Bloom.
“Through the imaginative retelling of 35 Bible stories, Not by Sight gives us glimpses of what it means to walk by faith…” When I read the description, I panicked. Pretty sure I cried. Because I’d been thinking about writing Remarkable Faith for several years and when the description sounded so similar, I worried there was no need for my book. Perhaps I was too late.
I read the whole book and discovered that while there were similarities, on the whole, they were distinct. Thankfully, publishers want to know about “comparable books” when they are considering publishing yours. Just like a real estate agent will provide you with a list of comparable houses recently sold in your neighborhood, a publisher wants a list of books recently sold in your genre. So what felt like disappointment initially, turned out to be a gift. I had a comparable book proving there was indeed a desire for a book like mine.
I’ve chosen an excerpt in which Bloom imagines Zacchaeus making good on a promise: “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (Luke 19:8 NIV)
Imagine a father and son inside a first-century home when an unwelcome visitor arrives. Bloom even catches our attention with a provocative chapter title.
Dismembering an Idol
“Dad, there’s a man at the door. He said his name is Zacchaeus.”
“Zacchaeus!” Judah’s face flushed with sudden anger. “What does he want?” Under h es breath he muttered, “The little vermin.” His young daughter didn’t need to hear that.
“I don’t know.”
Judah moved brusquely past his daughter, clenching his jaw. If the little weasel even hints at more money, I swear… a thunderstorm of violent thoughts broke in his mind.
When he saw Zacchaeus, he exploded, “WHAT?” Zacchaeus reeled slightly from the verbal blow.
“I’m here to return something to you, Judah.”
“What do you mean?” The tone sounded more like, “Get out of my sight!”
Zacchaeus held out a small moneybag. Judah was suspiciously confused. This man had robbed half of Jericho collecting taxes for Tiberius. No one was more conniving and slippery with words. Fearing some kind of setup, Judah didn’t move.
“What are you doing, Zacchaeus?” Cynicism hissed through Judah’s teeth.
“I’m dismembering my idol.”
Judah’s fiery glare turned to stony bewilderment. “What are you talking about?”
“Judah, I know how strange this must sound. And you have every reason not to trust me. I’m here because I’ve defrauded you. I’ve charged you more taxes than Rom required and kept them for my wicked little self. I know that you and everyone else knows that. But now I’ve come to ask your forgiveness for sinning against you like that, and to make restitution. That’s what’s in this bag.”
Zacchaeus held it out again. This time Judah tentatively took it. He looked inside. “There’s a lot in here. It’s got to be more than you overcharged me.”
“Yes. It’s four times what I overcharged you. I’ve got all the records, you now. Zacchaeus smiled.
“Why are you giving me four times what you owe me?” Judah’s distrust was not dispelled.
“I’m keeping a vow. I promised Jesus that I would repay everyone I defrauded fourfold.”
“You mean Rabbi Jesus? You know him?
“I do now….”
(Taken from Not by Sight: A Fresh Look at Old Stories of Walking by Faith, by Jon Bloom, ©2013, pp. 43-44. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.org.)
I love his practical rendering of what it might have looked like for Zacchaeus to do the unthinkable. Think of the logistics–sifting through records, calculating, filling bags with currency destined for a particular taxpayer, and finally the delivery and explanation. In the tax booths of Jericho, his unforgettable act of restitution was long remembered and discussed. And so was the Savior he honored.