There is an extremely thin line between the worlds of water and air. This is a story from both sides of these worlds. Let’s sink down below that thin line where an old bass swims lazily across the pond, sure and calm in his ability and strength. Slipping under a water lily, he turns and surveys his domain, ever vigilant for the stray grasshopper or frog that would round out his breakfast. In the far distance he spots movement. It’s that vicious creature from the above that has chased him all his life. Holding perfectly still, he tracts the large bird streaking through the water in his direction. Although he had always been faster and quicker in his turns, it was still sure death if he hung around. Shooting down to the green depths, he slid under the old tree that he always went to for safety and waited for the danger to go away.
I sat looking at the pond from the other side of where the water meets the air and watched the cormorant surface with a small perch in his hooked beak. Although I tried to keep these pesky birds off the ponds, they still came regularly and ate the fish and small animals that lived there. Undoubtedly, the old bass I had been watching was capable of dealing with this particular danger, but what was troubling me was a much greater danger that was way beyond the capabilities of any fish living in the pond.
We were in the middle of a bad drought, and the ponds were drying up. I looked at the pond where the old bass lived and caught sight of the lower pond about a hundred feet away, and it hit me. All I had to do was drain all the water from the upper one into the lower one and move the fish. Problem solved. I just wish it had been that easy.
My buddy, Noel, was an avid fisherman so he agreed right away to help me. We got the water pumped down until only about three feet of water was left and that was pretty contaminated. It was time to move the fish. I tried walking out into the water with a net but immediately sunk to my knees in black gooey mud. Plan B was next which was comprised of a tight fence stretched to the middle of the pond and a fish seine attached to the end of the fence in the center of the pond. My job was to sit in the boat and hold the loose end of the seine, while Noel took a rope and pulled me around the pond, hoping to pin the fish between the fence and seine.
The old bass knew something was wrong. The world was slowly changing from clear and cool to dark and foul, and the heat was intense. He stayed on the bottom as long as he could, but soon he was driven back to the upper reaches for oxygen. Then there was no upper part anymore and only the dead lower world was left. Something was changing again. Harsh vibrations and strange things were moving across the world, and in intense fear, he shot away from the moving wall. All the other fish were also swimming as fast as possible to get away from this terrifying danger, and then the world as he knew it, went crazy.
The first trip around the pond went great. We moved almost all the fish into a great wad of flopping, squirming bodies next to the fence so I grabbed my net and took a giant scoop of fish up into the boat. I wish. What actually happened was the fish saw the net coming and en mass shot to the end of the trap, which succumbed to the onslaught. All the fish escaped back into the pond.
I was so amazed at what had just transpired, and so excited to see that the old bass had a lot of friends that looked to be in the 6-7 lb. range, that we immediately reworked the fence with stronger wire and made a second attempt. This time Noel was getting a little tired from all the fierce activity, and then he slipped and fell face down in the black mud. No problem, Noel comes from strong stock. He dug the slime from his nose and eyes and took off again full bore. We rounded the last curve, and there they were, hundreds of prime fish trapped again ready to be loaded into the boat.
The old bass was getting tired. Not much oxygen, fleeing from the horrendous things that were destroying the world; it was almost more than he could take. Jammed in with all the other bodies, it was almost impossible to move. Just when it seemed it could get no worse, the unknown thing from the surface attacked again. With adrenaline surging, he plunged into the far end of the space where they got out last time. Fear of the unknown once again sent all the fish full force against the old seine, causing it to split open, and the old bass sought refuge again under the submerged tree.
I was sick. Noel came over to the boat, and we stood on the bank gasping for air from the exertion. “Man, I wish I could talk to those fish,” I told him, “I’d tell them that just over the hill was a clear, cool world of water that would last out the drought. All they have to do is trust me, but that is not happening.” All of a sudden my mind opened up and I realized – I was the fish. I was living on this side of the thin line separating our reality from the Kingdom of Heaven, and God was trying to get my attention.
“Do you see what just happened?” I asked him. “ Yeah, the seine was old and rotten, and I’m too tired to do it again.” I could see he was not real good at reading my mind so I said, “ No, man, I’m the fish.” He just stood there with a strange look on his muddy face wondering if the sun had finally taken its toll on my mind. More info was needed so I said, “God has been telling me to sell our business for a long time now, but I’ve been scared to let go of my safe little world. I’m having a hard time walking away from all I’ve ever known and learning to trust Him with the future.”
We stood there a minute thinking about that. Then I said, “Just like the fish, I have been trusting in my own abilities to survive, and all along He has been trying to tell me that just over the hill is a wonderful world that He has set up for me. All I have to do is trust Him. It’s too bad He had to use these innocent fish to get my attention because they are not going to make it.”
A few days later the old bass ran out of air and floated to the top to join the rest of the fish there, and the buzzards held a fandango as they cleaned up the mess. Dust to dust…
I wish the story ended here, but a few weeks ago Noel discovered that he is also like the fish. I ask you to join me in prayer for him as he walks the journey of trusting God while battling cancer for the second time in 12 months.