Friday, April 23, 2010

Fish Out of Water

Several month ago my children attended a birthday party for a girl in the church. This party was set up like a carnival, and we ended up with two fish. Amazingly, the fish are still alive. We keep them separated from each other since they are "betas" and supposedly won't play nicely together.

My daughter was feeding the fish the other day. I was across the room. She casually mentioned that one fish was no longer in it's tank. It had become so excited that it was being fed that it actually jumped out of the water to get the food out of her hand, but landed outside of the tank. Now before all of you PETA people and animal lovers get worried, I'll let you know that I quickly put the fish bank in the water and it is fine. What really surprised me though was that my daughter- who gets theatrical over the appearance of a bug in her room- was not in the least bit worried about her fish jumping out of the tank. Didn't she care that it could die? Why did she take her time to casually let me know about the problem? Here's why- it wasn't her fish!!!!! It was her brother's fish, so she just didn't care as much.

The excitement of the fish could have led to the death of the fish. On the other hand, the lack of excitement on the part of my daughter could also have lead to the death of the fish. It seems like there is a lesson there for us. We need to get excited about the right things and to the right degree. Our excitement (or excitability) over issues in society or issues in our lives might be a very good thing. Sometimes we do need to get riled up and take action. Sometimes we need to jump up and down and make some noise and let people know what is going on around us. But we also need to make sure that we make that noise in a way that doesn't marginalize what we have to say. If we completely "jump out of the tank" we could end up being of no use at all to the very thing that motivated us.

Let's remember that the thing that we should be most excited about is the gospel. God, in His grace and mercy, provided the solution to our problem of sin. Don't be so causal about that good news that you fail to let people know that they can also benefit. And don't jump off the Empire State building just so you will have people listen to you preach while you are falling. I hear that the landing is quite unpleasant, and you won't be able to preach again afterward.


  1. Cute story and and the points are well taken. I, myself, learned a long time ago that kids and fish are a bad combination. Among my most memorable moments is the time a young Mike cracked the 10 gallon tank and it leaked all over my wedding album. Pat D

  2. Nice illustration, point taken.

  3. awesome!
    My daughter has a beta she earned while at the psychiatric hospital. The other day in her excitement to transfer the fish to the new tank she purchased, the fish went down the bathroom drain! Fortunately, we have a very deep elbow joint with an unscrewing flexible hose set up. I rescued the fish (they are hearty little buggers) but it took my child two days to remember to thank me.