PeePaw would launch us out in the boat and paddle from the front. I would sit in the middle, with a HUGE life vest that dang near suffocated me, so they could keep me under a watchful eye. Apparently I would jump in unannounced at times, so extreme caution was always used. I was a little hyper and excited as a child. Ok. Ok. I’m still at little hyper and excited.
MeeMaw would sit in the back of the boat and direct my PeePaw (she would yell out his name HENRY) where to go. If he didn’t listen to her, then certain “expressions” would fly back and forth over my head as Henry and Nell emphasized the importance of their opinions on the direction of the boat. We didn’t have Twitter or Facebook or Vine or even the internet back then, but man those comments and moments would have made some amazing tweets and videos!
That life vest I had to wear was a small price to pay to get to fish with them. I never complained, too much, because I loved to fish with them. We would fish for hours, and would usually catch a pretty good “mess” of fish because PeePaw, thanks to MeeMaw’s guidance of course, always knew right where to take us. We’d pull them in one after the other.
PeePaw loved to tell a story about me every time we went fishing. Actually, he’d tell the story pretty much anytime someone new came with me to their house. He would tell the story about how one time, when I was a little boy, we had gone fishing together. We caught a mess of fish and brought them back up on the bank. They dumped the fish out of the bucket, and they begin to flop for all they were worth. They said I laughed & laughed as I pointed to the fish and exclaimed in my high pitched little boy voice, “Look PeePaw!! Those fish are so happy!! They are happy PeePaw!” Each time he told that story he would laugh so hard and smile from ear to ear. Isn’t it funny how you don’t realize how special some moments are until you look back? But, that is for another blog at another time…Today we are talking about Happy Fish and feeling “Like a Fish out of water.”
If fish had feelings, I'm sure they weren't feeling happy. They were out of their environment. They were grasping for water to move through their gills, so they could breathe again. They were dying. Yet, in their death, they were actually providing life and a great meal for our family. It turns out there is a lot we can learn from a flopping fish.
I am learning that as we willing yield to the Holy Spirit’s Sanctifying work in our lives, we will many times feel like a fish out of water. As the Spirit transforms us into the image of our Savior, we will initially, and quite frequently, also feel like a fish out of water. When we step out in complete, blind, and dare I say “stupid” faith to pursue God’s purpose and will in our lives, we will again feel like a fish out of water. When the Holy Spirit asks us to do or speak or act or believe for something that is completely different than anything we’ve ever done or experienced before, we will feel like a fish out of water. Why? Because we are out of our environment! Because it’s not like we’ve always done it! Because it’s not OUR WAY! It’s His. So, if we aren’t flopping around every now and then, we must still be in the safety of what is comfortable, familiar, and all about us.
I have felt like a fish out of water many times over the past 3 years as Donna and I stepped out to begin weDIGit. Many of you may have witnessed my “flopping” from afar. I have flopped around trying to get back to what felt “normal.” I have flopped around in fear of the unknown. I have flopped around attempting to figure things out or make things happen on my own. The temptation has been to believe that I needed to get back into the water of what I have always known. I didn’t want to die. I wanted to go back to a safe environment. I wanted to have a “normal” way of life. I wanted something “consistent” financially. But you know what? As my flopping begins to subside, I am beginning to really understand what Jesus meant in John 12:24.
“I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels--a plentiful harvest of new lives.”
To live, we have to die. Die to self. Die to the opinion and approval of others. Die to our wants & desires. Die to our plans and goals. Die to our opinions & false beliefs. Die to our way of life. Die to anything and everything that is not of God. Then, and only then, can we really LIVE! Not only live, but Jesus says in John 10:10 we can live a life that is ABUNDANT and FULL! A life that yields a harvest of NEW lives as the Holy Spirit transforms us, even as we are flopping, into the image of Jesus Christ Himself. We can then share our flopping stories with others around us. We can share with others how that because of God’s grace, mercy, and love we have been Transformed! Changed! Healed! Restored! Renewed! Ceased to Flop! And as the Psalmist says in Psalm 40, “Many will see and fear the Lord!”
When we quit flopping around like a “fish out of water”, we finally submit to the death of self, and allow the Holy Spirit and the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead to work IN and through us to bring glory to the Father through all that we do and say. When that happens, the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:26 will be clearer than ever before.
“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.”
You see, God does the miracle IN US! He makes anything and everything possible! If He ordains it, He will sustain it! Can I get an Amen from my flopping dying- to-self brothers and sisters out there?? It’s HIS life IN us!
If you are flopping around like a fish out of water today be encouraged!! I’m a flopper too! But guess what, we are not alone! As we yield to God’s Sanctifying, death to self, work in our lives, He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. The pain may be great. The flopping may be severe and frequent. We may be grasping for air. But we can find hope in the words of Jesus in John 16:32,
“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”