Trisha almost always found a way to make every Sunday a special occasion to walk herself to the neighboring church, but today was her first double digit birthday. Sitting alone at the close of Sunday service, her first act as an official pre-teen was to bow her head and pray. Dear Lord, may I love you more than anyone has ever EVER loved you before. I promise to never EVER sin again. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.
Lifting her head from prayer, the blue lights of the church’s fish aquarium caught her eye. All different sizes of colorful tropical fish fluttered their fins and seemed to cheer for her from their aqua dimension.
It would be her job to tend to the fish this week while pastor and many of the adult members of the church were on retreat at Camp Smokey. Pastor had explained to her that the fish needed four sprinkles at four o’clock sharp everyday and not a drop more. He showed her the scoop net to get out debris and reminded her to keep the sliding lid to the aquarium’s top closed. Trisha was finally being treated like an adult.
At five minutes until four on the first day, Trisha arrived to care for the fish. She said hello to the fish, slid back the lid, and gave them one, two, three, four sprinkles. The fish sprang for their sprinkles greedily gobbling them all up in a minute. It was over much too soon.
“How ‘bout a little extra something for the good little fishes?” She gave them another sprinkle, and the fish went nuts—and another—and another—and another.
The next three days went much the same, but when she returned on the fifth day, she greeted the fish, slid back the lid, and SCREAMED. One poor little fish with dulled eyes lay belly up in the water. Trisha paced back and forth.
“What am I going to do?”
She remembered the little scooper net that the Pastor had showed her. She imagined nervously scooping out the dead fish and accidentally shaking it out of the net until if fell onto her foot. She couldn’t take that chance. Just then the clock struck four. One, two, three, four sprinkles. Her job was done. But you’re all so sad, she thought. Here’s one, two more to ease your pain.
As she approached the fish tank on the sixth day, it was easy to tell that something was wrong. The waters were slightly cloudy. She cautiously slid back the lid. Now five stiff little fish carcasses bobbed at the top of the water with their noses in the air.
“Oh, you silly fishes. Taking a nap, I see. Well, this will wake you up.” One, two, three, four sprinkles, and she added a pinch to grow an inch. Denial felt a lot better than fear to Trisha.
Upon the seventh day, she found the once blue waters a dank grayish green. The fish were moving slow, but most didn’t move at all. The biggest fish slugged through the water with what looked like cataracts on his once bright eyes. All Trisha knew was that the fish was blind.
Great sorrowful sobs shook her body down to the ground until she lay in a heap in front of the fish tank. Trisha was startled by a thud. She looked up through her tears and saw the pastor. He had dropped his bags and dropped his jaw.
“What happened?” he asked.
“I gave them too many sprinkles,” she cried.
“Its fun watching them scramble to the top, isn’t it?” he asked.
“But they’re not scrambling anymore.”
Trisha bawled and wailed.
“You’re not helping anything fussing like this. Why don’t you try to think what you can do to fix it?” said the pastor.
“Well, I can’t make them alive again,” she cried.
“That’s okay, God made more,” he smiled at Trisha until she couldn’t help but smile back, “you can help me scoop the fish and clean the tank.”
“But I’m afraid one will fall on my feet.” Trisha said, “That’s why I couldn’t scoop the first fish that died.”
“And that’s the fish that poisoned the water. God’s looking for overcomers. He’s not looking for cry babies. Let’s just face our fears and get busy.”
Trisha found it hard to be sorrowful when she was busy and moving forward. She wondered what she was ever so afraid of in the first place.
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