"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Plight of an Overly Exuberant Guppy

Remember how I made the statement about getting fish after my dog, Murphy, died? Remember how I wondered if they would be able to teach me any life lessons? After several weeks, I was beginning to wonder if they even had a life themselves. I bought a ten-gallon aquarium and put in some of the standard tropical fish; guppies, tetras, platys, albino catfish and a couple dwarf frogs. All in all, a pretty boring lot even though the colors were nice. However, no tricks, no fetching, no licking my nose after a long day at work, just swimming up and down, all around and eating whatever crossed their paths. They didn't like the morning walks, but they sure did like to get some nasty little brine shrimp treats everytime I walked by. Not eating a teeny brine shrimp is not a life lesson I need to be taught, it just kinda comes naturally.

Then, every couple of days, I would notice a tetra or a guppy lying on the floor behind the tank. Dead, no signs of homicide or suspicious activities...just a dead fish lying on the carpet. As I continued to bury them in the circular water tomb, go to the store for another, there would be another casualty within a couple days. Same modus operandi, same location, same lack of any physical evidence. I tried my best CSI Vegas/Miami/New York tactics, but nothing could be found.

Finally, a weekend came and I was home with the fish all day for two days. I fed them at their usual time and took my usual Saturday morning position in the recliner. I noticed how the fish would circle around the bottom of the tank then make a wild dash to the top to grab a speck of food then go back down to eat. Then, as I watched, it happened. A rogue tetra made his wild dash for a large flake of food, overshot the target and found himself airborne and headed down for a perfect carpet landing. These fish just got a bit too excited and exuberant about their food and never thought of the consequences of their actions. Realizing that these fish have brains the size of a pinhead, I seriously doubt they have very much logical thinking ability.........however, we as humans have this capability.

Voila! I began to think about how we as people let our over-exuberance get us into situations that are beyond our control. As a senior in high school, a few of us got a little over-exuberant and ended up absconding with a schoolbus to make a lunch run to McDonalds. Not a good idea. After the principal and our parents were finished, we would have preferred to be a dead fish on a carpet. That is certainly not the last nor least of my adventures of exuberant behavior, but it will just have to whet your appetite for now.

People get too carried away about food, about hobbies, about money, about possessions, about cars, about where they live, about their appearance and so many other things. These can affect how we interact with our families, friends and coworkers. These can change out motives and actions to the point where we are consumed with the acquisition or use of these things to the point we find ourselves like a fish on the carpet someday. Alone, dried up, and dead for all intents and purposes (well, I tried to not use 'intents and porpoises' in a fish story).

As a Christian, we can also become a bit over-exuberant when we share our faith. Sometimes we use those horrible theological words that no one understands. Often we get too pushy and threaten someone with hellfire and damnation when at the moment they just need some food or clothing for their children. We forget that when Jesus began His teaching, that he dressed like, associated with and ate with the "bad people" of the day. How else could they learn? How else could Jesus meet them at the point of their need? We should do the same here in 2005.

Don't judge the teenager with baggy shorts and long hair who is skateboarding down your street or at the park. I was one of them once myself and found myself being judged solely by my appearance, too. Get to know them, meet them at the point of their need, then when the time is right, share God with them. Don't judge the adult who uses some inappropriate language. Don't blast them away at the first opportunity (after all, how many of us really say "oh pooh" when we smash our hand with the hammer?). Get to know them, love them, then the time will come when you can share with them about how God honors a purer mouth and tongue.

My hope and desire is that my life is a Christian man is one that reflects the uncompromising standards of my faith, yet also reflects the compassion and understanding toward all people created by the God in whom I believe. I'd much rather be a well-fed, living albino catfish swimming in the aquarium of God's Love than to be a dead dried up fish on the carpet of life.

And so my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.


At 1:11 PM, Blogger Vicki said...

You know, Jimmy, those are good analogies. I had no idea fish could end up on your carpet! lol...

We've all been guilty of judging too quickly, I guess. The older I get, though, the more I realize my own life is full of contradiction and conflict at times. God has pointed this out while trying to develop more humility in me. He's used my hurts from other people's snap judgements) to teach me how *not* to be.

Thanks for a another good post!
Hope all is well your way.


At 9:11 PM, Blogger curious servant said...

Nice analogy. If I could add a little to it...

I have a large aquarium, a commmunity tank, with all sorts of fish.

Knowing the nature of these creatures I have placed safeguards over them to keep them safe.

There is a glass cover to the tank to prevent their leaping into the world of lung breathers. It would take a careful leap to locate the gaps where filters or hose enter the spaces between pieces of glass.

Our father also places clear safeguards for us. We can still find the gaps if we try, but it is best to follow our conscience and go sit on the gravel after we bump against His clear warnings.

At 10:41 PM, Blogger BHGA said...

As always I enjoy your analogies and walk away feeling renewed. Thanks for an uplifting post. Have a blessed week Jimmy!


At 9:11 AM, Blogger Hillary said...

Poor fishies!

I love your blog! I've been reading for a while now. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

I'm visiting my American blogfriends this morning to say happy Thanksgiving! I hope you enjoy your day! :)


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