This article originally published in the January 2009 issue of groundswell.
“She likes to swim, but her bowl is so small, she just keeps swimming in circles.” The laughter on the other end of the phone erupted instantaneously. We were talking about my fish–but the irony hit strong and fast. I had a rough day. I felt overwhelmed with life. We had been talking through it. We both knew the many things in my life were God-given. The overwhelmed perspective, however, were all my own. Before moving on to the topic of the new fishbowl I bought for my fish, I said that all I needed to do was take a breath, and when overwhelmed thoughts come crashing through, to take them captive. I needed to remember that those things given by God came packaged with the strength to accomplish them.
The irony of my fish swimming in circles served as a distinct picture of my own experience. By allowing thoughts of “I can’t possibly do all this” to overflow in my heart, I had shrunk my own fishbowl. And I was swimming in circles. The shrinking perspective created a frozen state of where nothing actually got accomplished.
Irony struck quick again. “Whenever I try to help, I end up almost killing her.” The adventure of fish ownership had its snags, resulting in needing the change the water three times in under a week–all because my best intentions kept messing up my poor fish’s environment. My meddling kept literally mucking up the water.
Such is life. I try and try and try under my own strength only to find myself at the end of my rope, at the end of my energy, and beyond able to cope. Every time I try to help myself out, I muck up the water.
As we chatted on about how I could change my perspective and change my approach to life, the metaphor of my fish rang through. Though we may not like to admit it, we are as fish in the fishbowl of life. We have this environment where we swim and play and live. We may have an awareness of a world outside of our bowl, but ht reality of that world remains just beyond our reach.
We explore our bowl, try to make sense of our bowl. The truth remains that we can only know just so much. And just as I serve as some giant source of food to my fish, God faithfully proves for us. He drops in exactly what we need in the timing that we need it. I am but a goldfish in this great big incomprehensible reality.
So I am done limiting my world to only what I see around me. Trusting His perspective, His approach, and His provision will open my eyes to things unseen. The experience of this life will be more rich than anything I could ever imagine.
photo by unknown photographer
Throwbacks are all about bringing in previously-published articles. These articles appeared back when groundswell was published in the form of an email newsletter. The photos are newly added to the blog.