Do you ever feel like a big fish in a small pond? We all do at one time or another. A small glimpse of some hidden energy or power within us inspires us to bigger seas.
One caution: the answer isn't a bigger pond.
As a girl, I went fishing a handful of times. You know, if someone else baited the hook and also removed slimy fish from that same hook at the appropriate times. And the one thing you can't help but recognize about the ol' fishin' hole - usually a pond around these parts - is the thick layer of algae that collects around the shores. It stifles the water, and once that growth takes hold, it is not long before the whole pond is scum.
It's because there is fairly little to stir the waters. Very little to make them move. A pond is self-standing; it makes its home in one place and is fed by merely the rainwaters washing into its recesses. There is no feeder system, no river or lake or ocean to keep fresh water flowing in. It ebbs and flows only with the weather. In good times, there is a pond. In bad times, there is a crater. Somewhere in between, there is scum.
Which is kind of how most of us are living.
We've settled ourselves into our small ponds. These little places in the world that we've carved out for ourselves. These places that seem to make sense. Beautiful, maybe. Nice and insulated. Secluded. Tucked away into a habitat that is specially ours. Every once in awhile, someone might check in on us. Might try to fish our depths for a morsel of protein, one solid contribution we can make, but for the most part, we're left alone to simply be as we are.
In our little ponds, we're moved only by the weather. In good times, we are filled. A little rain reminds us of the presence of God and saturates our soil with His life-giving water. In bad times, we are emptied and the parched land of our heart leaves us questioning whether there is a God at all. Somewhere in between, there is scum.
Because we stagnate here. We're not moving. We're sitting around, not doing much of anything. There's nothing to feed us, and by our nature, we're not feeding anything. Nothing's coming in; nothing's going out. Save, of course, the few glimpses of God we get from watching the sky. The longer we stay here, the more aware we are that there is still somehow life teeming within us. Still something growing, something thriving. Something we can offer. And it's suffocated by the algae that is crowding our shores. The scum that is pushing in on us and seems just to make our pond smaller.
Then we think we've got to get out of here. We need a bigger pond.
No. We need a river.
Jesus says, "Everyone who drinks this water will become thirsty again. But those who drink the water that I will give them will never become thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give them will become in them a spring that gushes up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14)
We are a people filled with living water. Living. Water that runs in a spring, that flows from the highest to the lowest places. Water that starts in the mountains and ends in the sea and is always moving, always flowing, chipping away at the rut and the dirt, cutting a new groove, and flowing over a parched world. There's no thirst in living water for the pond. It needs a place to move.
There's no room in the pond for living water. It has no room to grow.
Our problem is not that we're a big fish in a small pond. Our problem is that we're in a pond at all. We won't answer the nagging in our hearts by moving to a bigger pond, by finding a bigger place to stagnate. We can only answer our restless energies by putting them to use in the springs. By living and working and loving and flowing through our world, wherever that leads us. By connecting ourselves to the source of this water at the top of the mountain and letting it flow down through us, cutting a path to the sea. Disturbing the rut and the dirt on the way.
Then we're not moved by weather because the water always flows. We don't waver when there is rain or when there is drought because the source of our spring is constant. It is Christ.
Christ, the fisher of men. Who plucks big fish from small ponds and small fish from big ponds and scared fish from dark ponds and dead fish from scummed ponds. The question is, little fish: are you happy as a scumsucker? Or will you let yourself be caught?
Will you let your God catch you up in rushing waters, in springs of life, in streams from the mountains, in rivers to the sea? Will you let your God catch you and clean you and set you about in living waters - which are both in you and that in which you are to live?