I recently inherited a fish tank for my office. Months ago, my son in law asked me if the church would ever want a fish tank and I may have implied that I might be willing to put one in my office. Last week I received a message from him asking where we wanted the fish tank….realizing that I had opened the door to this conversation, and also feeling emboldened by his promise that my son Josh, who also works here at the church, would take care of the fish, I didn’t say no (which to him meant that I said yes).
The issue for them was that they were moving into an apartment and didn’t have room for the fish, so Last Friday, while I was out of the office for my day off, a fish tank showed up. Since then it has been just barely functioning. I plugged in the filter and heater as soon as I realized that it hadn’t been finished, but all the decorations for the fish to swim in and around were still sitting on the floor in a bag. For the last few days there was nothing but the essentials in the tank, the fish, some gravel, the filter, and the little bubble maker, and the fish seemed completely happy with this arrangement. They watched me work and waited for me to feed them….everyone was happy.
This morning I decided to finish the installation. In the back of my mind was a conversation that I had had with my daughter about how much the fish liked the ceramic brick-like items that used to be in the tank. She said that they would hide in them and then come out and play, and they there were certain spots in the bricks for certain fish…each had his own favorite place to hide. After washing the items off as best I could, I placed them in the tank, and went about my work. After a while, I noticed that two of them were engaged in repeated attempts to kiss each other on the lips, (weird right???) which brought a smile to my face at first, but as I watched, I realized that instead of showing affection They were showing aggression, which for Goldfish means they would bite each other’s lips and then push each other back, to try and gain the upper….well….Lip! As I watched I realized that I hadn’t fed them today so I naturally thought that they were trying to maybe eat each other (cut me some slack, I’m new at this whole “fish” thing). As I dropped the food into the tank, I was surprised to see that they ignored it completely and continued with their battle. This had never happened before! Food was their whole life and the only high point of their day, until I put the “toys” back in the tank.
As I watched them battle back and forth, I realized that they were all fighting over the spots in the bricks that I had given them just a few minutes before. A thought occurred to me at that moment. They were completely happy with what they had, when all that they had was what they absolutely needed. The moment I introduced their “toys” into the environment they started fighting over them. Maybe they would have been better off without them, or maybe these little battles are what makes them happy, since they have nothing better to do.
I couldn’t help but think that we are all just a little fishy in this regard. When we barely have what we need, we are thankful for what we have, but when abundance comes into our lives we begin to hoard it and fight over it as if we deserve it more than everyone else. We occupy all of our time battling over who deserves what and why we should get the bigger share. Could it be that the real key to peace is living simply and having only that which you really need? It seems like I read that Jesus said something similar. Maybe we should all look that up?
There are those that would say that maybe the battles we fight give us something to do. That maybe they even help us develop the ability to survive in this world and make us stronger. I would agree that a good battle can be an enjoyable distraction, if you have nothing better to do. CHURCH, PLEASE HEARE ME….WE HAVE SOMETHING BETTER TO DO!!! See Mathew 28:18 if you don’t believe me. If you looked it up you now know that we have no time for battles over meaningless accessories to life. We have a mission and have been promised everything that we need for that mission.
It would be a shame for the poor fish If I were to take away all their “toys” to restore peace to the tank. They would survive and might even get along, as they faced their common enemy (me). It would be an even greater shame if God allowed the enemy of our souls to take from us some of the things that we enjoy, so that we would have the focus necessary to do as he has commanded, but at least then we would have a common enemy.
These thoughts are not complete, nor is this conversation over. Feel free to comment.