Thursday

A lesson from Herbie, the goldfish


When I was in first grade, my elementary school conducted a carnival. I remember this day pretty well even though it was a long time ago, because that is when Herbie came into my life. Herbie was a small goldfish that I won at the carnival. It was one of those happy childhood days. My mom came to the classroom and walked through the carnival with me, steering me clear of the fish until the very last. She didn't want to carry it around and risk the bag breaking. It must have been clear that everyone could win a goldfish.

When I won my fish, I was elated. The little guy swam around in the plastic bag filled with water and I held it carefully all the way home. When we got home my mom filled up a large glass bowl that had a stem -- at that age I thought it would be a neat drinking glass probably because I had seen people drinking from smaller, similar glasses on television -- and we dumped Herbie into the water. I watched my little goldfish swim around making "o" shapes with his mouth as he breathed.

My favorite thing was to feed Herbie. I liked to watch him swim to the surface and suck in the little pellets that I sprinkled on top. He was always so eager. I think this was the only excitement Herbie had -- that is until we cleaned his bowl.

Cleaning the bowl was a job for my dad. I watched and helped the best I could. It always amazed me to see Herbie swim really fast as my dad chased him around the bowl with a net and then flop around once he was inside and had hit air. Herbie always seemed grateful when we dumped him into a glass of water while we cleaned his bowl.

The one thing about Herbie is that his life was immersed in blessing. He was surrounded by his life source, water. He was well fed and had no real worries. Even the net was his friend because if we had let his bowl grow increasingly dirty, Herbie would have died.

Herbie is a lot like us. We are immersed in blessing. It may not feel like it sometimes. God may drag his net around in our bowl so that he can clean out our lives, but like Herbie, we are surrounded by our life source. God surrounds us and immerses us in his love. There is nowhere we can go to get away from it. If we did get away we would die spiritually.

Most people swim around in the fishbowls of their lives without realizing that they are surrounded by blessing. It is easy to take things for granted. However, God will remind us from time to time that he is there and that we are indeed blessed. It may come in the form of more blessings being sprinkled onto the surface of our lives, or, it may come in the form of trouble, when our world is turned upside down so that God can discipline us. These are the extra blessings in life. We are already surrounded in God's blessing. We are literally swimming in it.