I imagine that there is not much we can learn from a fish, but, lately I’m finding that all of God’s creation speak; yep, even those that don’t literally have a voice. Charlie, my betta fish, belongs to a unique breed because their belly is only the size of their tiny little eyeball. Even with this physical constraint, betta’s will literally eat EVERY TIME they are fed. They will actually gorge themselves to death! Why? Well, when betta’s are in their natural habitat, they do not know the next time they will eat and so they eat every time there is food even when their bellies are full. This is their nature. In some cases, if unchecked, betta’s will go “belly up” even though they are fat and happy. Strange, right? Not really. Charlie, my fish, swam happily around his tank in this state until I learned that my excessive feeding was putting his life at risk! Poor Charlie.
Charlie reminds me of this current life and how many in our culture, including me, have a tendency to pursue life on the fast track. That pursuit can become all consuming. Similar to the betta fish, consumption is in our nature. The fast track is loaded with stuff and little substance to sustain. The pursuit of more things. In fact, this desire for more things has a direct projection towards greed. Greed is cancer-like. Recklessly invading the body without regard for what is damaged in it’s path. Cancer fights and destroys the very thing that brings life. It would seem lofty to say that greed can destroy us. Only lofty until greed comes face to face with your family and the destruction is seen first hand. Sometimes the idea of greed is left to those who are wealthy. Let’s not be so presumptuous.
I recently read that “the preoccupation with striving, getting, and accumulating is NOT LIMITED TO UNBELIEVERS or those with six figure salaries.” This struggle resides in all of us. The idea that once we are “fat,” that we will then be fulfilled and even satisfied with this life. This next bit of truth serum is brought to you by a woman who has learned that being financially fat won’t make you happy. Cynthia Heimel, a woman who knew several movie stars before they became famous spoke of their ill placed desire in things to satisfy them and make everything ok…
“I pity celebrities, no I really do – Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, and Barbara Streisand, were once perfectly pleasant human beings. But now their wrath is awful. I think when God wants to play a really rotten practical joke on you he grants you your deepest wish and then laughs merrily when you realize you want to kill yourself. You see Sly, Bruce, and Barbara wanted fame. They worked, they pushed and the morning after each of them became famous they wanted to take an overdose. Because that giant thing they were striving for, that fame thing that was going to make everything OK, that was going to make their lives bearable, that was going to provide them with personal fulfillment and happiness had happened and they were still them. The disillusionment turned them howling and insufferable.” Cynthia Heimel, “Tongue in Chic” column in The Village Voice, January 2, 1990.
Truthfully, the myth of money (or anything outside of Christ) fully satisfying us is just that – a myth. None of us are any different. Deep disappointment awaits us all. This world alone was not meant to satisfy us. We were made for another world.
So, what should we do with this deep disappointment? We should look not to be made fat, but to become fulfilled in Jesus Christ alone. Relationship with Jesus Christ is enough to satisfy us. That is it. Simple and increasingly difficult to do in this life. As a single woman, I know that the things I desire today, such as marriage and family, will one day disappointment me in some manner. I will at some point feel unfulfilled even in that exciting season because people were never meant to fully fulfill us. So, I take this truth and hold on tightly to it. Maybe that simple truth will help me to not hold so tightly to things and grasp more tightly the gift of Christ’s love. Nothing wrong with the things we have been afforded in this life, such as cars, money, relationships; but are they consuming us? Are our lives and schedules filled with only the pursuit of these things? Has any particular “thing” moved from good to idolization? We must ask ourselves if what we are consuming is killing us or bringing us life.
Although I don’t have many things, I am full.
“Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice.” Proverbs 16:8 (NIV)