Posted by: ksuechester | January 2, 2011

Fishbowl

I vaguely remember them I was so small, but I remember their names clearly. We called them Flipper and Flossie. They were just two, normal, everyday run-of-the-mill goldfish, contentedly swimming in circles in the only world they knew; their not so large, clear glass goldfish bowl. I was too little to feed them, but I remember watching my sister, or one of my brothers, and even once in a while, my Dad, as they picked up the little can with holes in the white top, and sprinkled into their bowl, a tiny amount of what looked like, black pepper. In reality, it was fish food, and apparently it didn’t taste like black pepper, for those two little fish lost no time in making every last floating speck disappear!

Every so often, my sister, and again, once in a while, my dad, would take a soup bowl from the kitchen cabinet, fill it with water from the faucet and let it sit on the table until it reached room temperature. Then they would gently place Flipper and Flossie’s  fragile world on the table, and with a small net on a handle, would carefully transfer our small orange pets from the dirty water of their home, to the temporary soup bowl apartment. I would watch as the dirty water in the fishbowl was dumped, and the bowl was carefully rinsed and refilled with clean, clear water, and left to sit on the kitchen table until, once again the water in the now clean fishbowl reached room temperature. Then, Flipper and Flossie would be scooped up and placed once more in their roomier, more permanent home.

Looking back on it now, I wonder if Flipper and Flossie had any clue as to how perilous a life they really lived! Oh they seemed contented enough as they endlessly swam the few inches their watery world afforded them, but how content would they have been if they had once thought of the very real possibility that my sister could forget to give them their daily supply of food? How freely would they have swam if they could have guessed that the freshness of their world depended upon the faithfulness of my Dad? And if they had known the unpredictability of my Dad, they would have known that they had GREAT CAUSE to worry! How very true for them, the old saying, “Ignorance is bliss!” How great a blessing, their ignorance, that they were TOTALLY dependent upon the faithfulness of the humans in their lives, and how thankful they could have been that those humans didn’t delight in the torture of goldfish!

It seems lately, I have found my thoughts turning more and more to the goodness of God, and comparing our universe to that fish bowl. The Bible teaches that the very character of God is good, but I know of people who argue that God is mean; even cruel. They question, “If God is so good, why did He allow…?” Or, “If God loves me so much, why didn’t He prevent…?” I am sad to admit it, but I have found myself toying with those same thoughts from time to time. It seems we humans have the tendency to equate the character of God to the circumstance we find we are facing at any present moment of our lives. “If I am happy, then God is good, but if I am hurting or unhappy, then God must be a mean and hateful God, with no compassion at all; filled with spite and contempt for the whole human race!”

We know about “choice” and “free will,” but why is it, we want to believe that our every selfish and unholy action should be rewarded with “happy ever after” consequences? When will we understand that wrong choices, even if someone else makes them, oftentimes causes immeasurable pain and hurt!? In my own life, I have experienced horrible pain and loss, and have cried torrents of tears, because of the choices which someone else has made. That is probably true of every soul that has ever lived, even though God lays out clear guidelines in His Word to direct our every decision.

So why DO we accuse God of being cruel? WE are the ones who choose! And WE are the ones who act out our choices! Perhaps it is because we know of the power that God possesses, and in our self-centered little minds we expect that He should use that power to shelter and protect us from every painful “effect”, regardless of the “cause”! Forget the fact that others suffer the consequences from some of the choices WE may make, it is all about “My!” “Me!” and “Mine!”

But can we begin to imagine the kind of horrors we could experience if the character of God WERE cruel!? You and I are just as helpless and powerless in our world, as Flossie and Flipper were in theirs! If any one of their “caregivers” had taken a notion to, just for the “fun” of it, pull the fins off of one of those little fish just to watch it suffer, that poor fish would not have been able to do ANYTHING to stop him. And just so, if God were cruel and decided to lift us up by the hair of our head and set us on the moon to watch us gasp for oxygen so He could have His fun, all the pleading of our hearts could not change His mind, or prevent Him from doing so. If He wanted to reach down into our “bowl” and pinch off an arm or a leg on any one of us, who could stop Him? Cruelty has no compassion, and doesn’t care at all how loud we scream or how much we hurt, or bleed! Can we begin to imagine the fear and dread; the sheer horror of every second of our existence, wondering who or what would be next, if God WERE cruel!? OR if He HATED us!

THANKFULLY, that is not the way of God AT ALL! His character IS good! It was with GREAT love for the human race that He created us, and it was love that caused Him to give us choice, and INCREDIBLE love that provided a way of rescue, if the wrong choice was made; which we know, it was! It was God’s LOVE that instructed Adam not to eat from the “Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” I know that there are those who would argue, “Then why did God even put that tree there?” But what good is CHOICE without OPTIONS!? No, the problem wasn’t the tree. The problem was that Adam failed to understand, that with choice comes consequence. But we really shouldn’t blame Adam, either. It seems that WE don’t understand it any better than he did. And in reality, Adam has one over on us. He was the first to have to exercise this “freedom of choice,” with no examples of “cause and effect” to look at, and thereby to help guide him. We, on the other hand, have TONS of them. And we STILL don’t get it right! But God, the ultimate caregiver, is LOVE, and that is why, when we come to Him, yield to His wisdom, and surrender to His will, we are able to live in this fishbowl that we call “universe” with no more fear or worry than Flipper and Flossie seemed to have in theirs!

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Responses

  1. Kathy,
    I appreciate your thoughts…more people need to hear about the love of God. I have found in my experience that we tend to only see the circumstances we are in. We foucus down on them like a microscope, not allowing a broad vision of what is truly going on- the whole picture of what God is working. God takes us though lots of things, all for His glory. Maintaining a peace in the midst of the storm, whatever the difficult time is, that’s where God’s love is. “Yes, daughter, yes son, you have to go through these things, but I am with Thee.” And, as long as we stay focused on Him, and not the situation…He brings us out victorious, more dependent on Him, and stonger in Him than we ever knew we could be. God is so good!!!

    Thanks again for your thoughts,
    Adonyah Whipple-Ohio
    (Susan Furr’s niece)

  2. Adonyah, thank you for reading my blog, and for your comment. You are so right. It is easier, it seems, to focus more on the things we are going through, than on God, Who can take us through them safely!

    I don’t know if you know this, but your aunt Peggy and I were best friends in the 7th grade! She is a wonderful lady!

    God’s blessings to you!

  3. She did mention in her email that you were a childhood friend. How wonderful that God has maintained a relationship throughout all these years!! What I didn’t know is that she goes by Peggy!! How funny! She has always been Aunt Susie to me!!

    Too funny!
    Adonyah

  4. Lol Her friends at school called her Peggy. I think she goes by “Sue” or “Susie” to everybody else. She will always be Peggy to me though! lol

  5. Kathy,
    Thank you for your thoughts on how God’s love is like the fish bowl. I really enjoyed this story also. I know me and Freddie have been through so many things in our lives but without God we could have never gotten to the light at the end of the tunnel. Over the past 7 to 8 maybe 10 years I feel like my closeness to God has grown so much deeper and it is also strengthening my marriage beyond what I would have every believed. God is so, “AWESOME” and I love him so much. I never planned on going back to school this late in my life but with the help of God renewing my cobwebbed mind it has been such a blessing. I have also met some truly wonderful people that I would have never known if it wasn’t for me going back to college. I just “Praise God”, for everytime he reached into that fish bowl and picked me up when I fell. Without him I am nothing but with him I always have strength to go on in this life till I one day meet my savior.
    I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me – Phillipians 4:13
    Thanks again for your words they are very touching and very true…Love ya, Diane

  6. I know how you feel when you say you are thankful for the times that God has picked you up when you fell. It seems I am forever “falling” and He is constantly “Picking me up!” And like you, I can’t help but praise Him for it! When I look back on my life, and I see how close and precious He has been to me, and how FAITHFUL! I just want to tell people about it, and to tell them that what He has done for me, He will do for anyone who comes to Him! I wish the WHOLE WORLD could understand that! I love you, and I rejoice for your friendship!


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