Summary: A fish that would not die symbolized the Christ who is able to give a relationship that will never end, as opposed to our typical dependence on things or on information to make us secure.
We have, at our house, a small miracle. I can only call it a miracle. Maybe we ought to build a small shrine to house this miracle.
The miracle is the incredible, indestructible fish. Our own private incredible, indestructible fish.
You see, from time to time somebody in our household will decide to keep a small tank of tropical fish. The urge to create a little indoor pond and to maintain life in it will overwhelm somebody, and we will try to sustain a tank of fish. But always the same thing happens. Without fail, the scenario is the same. Except for this time. This time we have an exception to the rule. Let me share the story.
Every time we do the same thing. The tank is duly cleaned up, some exotic-looking plants are bought, the tiny house with openings through which the fish can travel is carefully set in place, the water 1s prepared at just the right temperature, a box of fish food is purchased. And then, when everything is absolutely ready, perfectly correct, just the right environment ... at that moment three or four little finny friends are introduced to the fish tank.
Now typically, for a few days, all goes well. They are fed right on time, not too little and not too much. The water temperature is monitored, not too hot and not too cold. The air pump is kept going and the light is kept burning. We do everything by the book. We are going to keep these fish alive and swimming. I started to say alive and happy, but for the life of me I have no idea how to tell whether a fish is happy!
But always the same thing happens. Without fail, the scenario is the same. One morning you go downstairs to put in the pinch of fish food, and somebody is belly up. The next evening there’s another one. And another, and another. And before long the sound of flushing is heard in the land, until all of them are gone, finished, kaput.
But, as I say, this time something is different. This time, although nearly everything was the same, this time, there is the incredible, indestructible fish.
This time, three or four fish, once again, were duly installed in the tank. This time, once again, we did everything right. We fed them, we monitored the temperature, we cleaned on schedule and we lit on schedule and did it all. We did everything but hold their fins and pray with them.
But they began to die, one by one, until there was only one fish left. And so we said, "Let’s give it up. This, as usual, is going nowhere. We just cannot succeed in fish farming. Let’s give it up."
We unplugged the heater and the lamp. We put in food. We cleaned no more. We nothing. We just set the whole apparatus intending to throw everything away.
Well, that’s been several months ago, and I want you to know that that one fish is still alive. still swimming, still cruising, without any attention from us, without food, without clean water, without air, without anything. It is still swimming.
And it’s incredible. Because there is by now scum on top of the water and a kind of murky yuck throughout the tank ... but, like that battery bunny, this fish just keeps going and going and going.
The incredible, indestructible fish. It has become a symbol for me of something profound. It is a symbol of God’s world, in which nothing is ever lost. God’s world and God’s intention, that nothing should be lost.
Listen: "Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away. … And this is the will of Him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that He has given me."
Do you hear all those inclusive pronouns? "Everything ... anyone ... nothing." Our God has created a world in which everything belongs to Him, anyone may come to Him, and nothing, no one, need be lost.
This incredible, indestructible fish. It survives without much material satisfaction, it persists under the scum, it clings to life. It is a symbol of God’s economy, in which nothing need be lost.
You see, you and I are looking for satisfaction. We want to be happy, we want to feel satisfied. But we look for satisfaction in all the wrong ways.
We look for satisfaction in things, for example. We keep on thinking that the latest, the newest, the most expensive things will make us happy. That to have this piece of jewelry, that car, this clothing, that house … that things will make us happy. But it never works. It never works.