Lessons from My Goldfish

goldfish picI, er…I mean my kids, have four pet goldfish. We’ve had them for almost a year now, and their names are Creamsicle, Creamsicle Jr., Butterbean, and Peaches. They’re fun little creatures. My husband thinks I’m crazy because I talk to the fish like they’re babies. And they engage with me, too, with eye contact and all. They’re really quite entertaining, as goldfish go, not to mention much quieter and less messy than a cat or a dog. The only downside is that I can’t pick them up and pet them—if I want them to live, that is.

The fish tank sits at the far corner of my kitchen counter, so I’m able to watch the fish while I cook meals and clean the kitchen. As I glanced over at them this evening, some thoughts came to mind about lessons I can learn from my scaly little friends.

1. My goldfish eagerly pursue me. When I walk by their tank to go downstairs to my car, they all swim over to me and wag their tails in joy. Well, maybe they’re just swimming with their tails, but nonetheless, they notice that I’m close to them, and they flock to me. What struck me is that I fail so often in eagerly pursuing my Master, my Heavenly Father. I know that He’s there for me and that He loves me, but do I really run to Him as eagerly as my goldfish swim to me? Do I love to spend time with Him as I should? Does my life reflect what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 42:1, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God”? As my goldfish pursue me, may I pursue my Creator, the Lover of my soul.

2. I have a confession. I don’t clean out the fish tank as often as I should. Right now, my poor fish are swimming in murky water. I will clean it tomorrow, I promise. But you know what? My fish aren’t complaining. They aren’t holding up signs to protest their unfair treatment. They aren’t organizing a focus group to work on the dirty water problem. They simply swim, just like they always do, trusting that everything’s going to be okay. They’re content, whether their water is crystal clear or a little dingy.

Sometimes my life gets murky, too. Sometimes my circumstances downright stink, just like my fish tank. During those times, do I swim around content, knowing that my Father will clean up the tank of my life in due time? Not usually. I like to whine and feel sorry for myself. I cry and complain. I don’t enjoy learning the lessons that are gleaned from the tough times; I want the heartache just to go away.

Yet, James tells us to “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (James 1:2-4 NIV).

That’s our goal, right? To be mature and complete, not lacking anything. But contentment and joy in the face of trials isn’t a natural response, is it? We need God’s power in our lives to help us see the silver lining when we’re in the midst of the storm. We need the supernatural. Thankfully, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deuteronomy 31:8 NIV)

Thank you, Lord, for Your promises and for my special goldfish.

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