Post from a Reader: Aquarium vs. Amanda

Beginning in January and continuing over the next few months, we will feature posts submitted by readers of the FastPray blog. It’s encouraging to know there is a whole community of Jesus followers fasting and praying on Mondays.

We fast and pray asking for the Lord to bring healing in our times: for men to be bold and to walk in to relationships with women, for women to be soft and willing to be molded by God’s gracious plan in their lives, and for God to give the good gift of marriage to those who desire it.

It was a chilly January day a couple of years back. I had decided in my youthful wisdom that it was time to conduct a deep clean of my 30-gallon fish tank. I mean really, how hard could it be? Just place fish in new sterile environment, dump out all the water, remove and clean all rocks at the bottom of the tank, scrape off every last inch of algae, re-insert rocks, fill tank with fresh water, re-insert fish to their home, and admire the beauty of a crystal clear aquarium! Seriously, that thing was the brightest shining object in the house! Fast forward two weeks later, and the sparkling tank was still spotless, but the fish were no longer swimming in their home. They had taken a trip down toilet bowl lane to their final resting place – every one of my fish had died.

I just couldn’t believe it. I had done everything necessary to keep my fish alive, and provide them with the best home possible. However, in my naivety, I didn’t realize until after I had spoken with some wiser fish friends who had been in the aquarium business much longer than myself, that fish will die in a “perfect” environment. If the clean water I provided them didn’t kill them, then removing every spot of algae (which some of my fish needed to survive) did the trick.

I had done it. I was a fish killer. Imagine the look of disapproval on the face of my local Petco employee as I tried to describe my predicament and explain why I was buying so many fish. He grudgingly handed me my new charges as I repeatedly promised him I would do better this time despite the fact that “fish killer” was stamped permanently upon my forehead.

In the battle of fish vs. Amanda, round two had just begun. I was coming into this round 0-1, but was determined to leave the victor this time around. I let my perfectionist guard down (just a little) to test the theory of an “imperfectly-perfect” fish tank environment.  Suffice it to say, three years have passed and most of my fish are still alive (the couple that did not survive in that time frame died of “old age” according to the official report). In fact, I have beat most of the “projected” life span expectancy for my fish! Go me!

A couple of weeks ago, I had to re-test my ability to re-locate fish and have them survive. Our family is in the process of re-modeling/decorating our home, and that meant that my aquarium needed to be re-located as well. I was petrified. Nightmares of the first time I emptied my fish tank came flooding back in my mind, and I was afraid I would not come out the victor in this round again. I held my breathe as I placed each fish in his own plastic bag while I emptied and cleaned (but not completely) the tank and moved it to its new location. After filling the tank back up with water, I may or may not have put in double of the protective solution that keeps my fish from dying from the “fresh water” as a precautionary measure. Then I had to sit back, wait, hope, and pray that my fish would survive the night and the following days.

Two weeks have passed and my fish (and their tank) could not be in a better condition. Their new home is much more flattering, and I have come out a victor once again.

If there is one thing I have learned as an owner of an aquarium, it is how fragile that ecosystem really is. One wrong move, and my fish could be dead, just like that. It is a balance I am learning to master, although the consequences and lessons learned have been at quite the cost.

And then I started thinking – the ocean is one big salt-water aquarium, managed by our Heavenly Father. It is not a common site to see dozens of fish wash up on shore. God doesn’t look down on the ocean and go, “Oopsie!! Oh well, let’s just start again!”

The God who keeps the balance of the fragile oceanic ecosystem, is the same God who holds our orbit and axis in just the right rotation lest we be burnt or frozen to death. He is the same God who knows the exact moment a sparrow falls to the ground, and has each of the hairs on your head counted.

As I look back and see how horribly I have managed my tiny little aquarium at home, I am amazed and grateful that my God does not make mistakes like me. To know that He is in control of every moment, and can make no error, is a consolation that even the crazy day-to-day living cannot take away from me. That is a promise and guarantee you can bank on!


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