On Christmas morning, as Julia rummaged in her stuffed stocking, she pulled out a small card with a fish drawn on it and the words, "What will you name me?" At first there was a confused look and then she grinned and gave an excited squeal. "Really? A fish? My very own pet?!"
Julia, our resident animal lover, was quite delighted at the prospect of becoming an official pet owner in 2012. But to her disappointment, Julia had to wait until after she returned from visiting with her father before she could go pick out her fish. She returned yesterday evening and today she could not settle down until we got her new fish.
After lunch we finally went to the store to pick out Julia's fish, and there were so many to choose from! In fact, the choices were a bit overwhelming for there was bowl after bowl after bowl of beta fish.
Julia stood on a little stool, given to her by the store manager, so that she could carefully inspect the fish. She solemnly peered into each glass container, as she silently stroked the sides of the bowls.
There were brilliant red ones, shocking blue ones, soft purples, iridescent greens, and even a shimmery gold one with bright orange and black flecks so that it resembled a leopard print.
There was a soft baby blue one with tiny black stripes. It had these short, spikey fins that somehow gave it the look of a beautiful bird feather. Maddie and I were immediately drawn to its unusual look. Julia was not impressed.
Megan pointed out this especially fancy looking fish ... a extremely vivid red one with long, fluttery fins that whipped and whorled around it in the water. The manager said, "Oh that's a Half Moon Beta. It's very pretty, but also more expensive. It costs $20."
I was preparing to tell my little girl that we were not going to buy the $20 beta fish, but then I realized that Julia wasn't interested in that one either. She was already enchanted with another fish.
I took a quick glance at the bowl only to realize that the one that she was gazing at so lovingly was absolutely the most unremarkable in a group of amazingly beautiful fish. It was a dull pale pink. The fins, which weren't overly long or especially wispy, swished and swirled as the fish darted back and forth in the water.
Julia caught my eyes and exclaimed, "Momma ... look how it follows my finger! This is the fish for me!"
So that's how it came to pass that we took home the plainest beta fish in the store. I think Maddie and Megan and I felt a little disappointed in her choice, but Julia beamed all the way home as if she knew she had found a rare treasure among all the gems.
Isn't that how it is with God too?
Hasn't He turn the scared and uncertain stutterer into a man who lead an entire nation out of slavery as they crossed over the Red Sea on dry ground?
Didn't He use the very smallest of the underdogs to overcome the impossible giant?
Remember how He found the man hiding in the threshing barn and used him to lead a tiny ragtag army into battle, only to have them defeat their unbeatable enemy in the most remarkable of ways?
And this God chose the young virgin maiden barely old enough to leave her parents as the one to bring forth His salvation.
This is our Father who long ago called to the weary fishermen, with their torn and empty nets, to bring His gospel to the far corners of the earth.
And sometimes, He even uses a plain little beta fish to remind me that His ways are not my way and that His truths stand forever for He is not a God of change. He is still calling the weary, using the small and the weak, the scared, the underdog, the wounded ... if only we are willing to be used for His glory.
Make it so in my life, Lord! Make it so!
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1: 26-31