Running around in my head tonight are two posts. Each of them seems to want to come out. Which do I write? The timely, relatively easy, one. Or, the one that is much more complex and self-revealing?
Come on! Most of you know me fairly well. I write the easy one! I promise (more to myself than to anyone else), though, that the other one will get written. In fact, maybe I will start a draft so I have it as a constant reminder. But, for now . . . .
This weekend my office moves across town and into the 9th Street office space. We will no longer have two DC offices. Oh, there is a lot that could be written about the process of moving. Maybe I will draw on that at some later time. The point that is with me tonight has to do with my fish.
I have had a fish tank in my office for probably close to ten years. It was just a ten-gallon tank that sat on a shelf. When I first got it, I filled it with three tropical fish (I don't remember what kind) and an algae-eater, a plecostomus, a pleco. The pleco pretty much spent his life hiding in the tank - behind a rock, or behind the little castle. You almost never saw him. I moved the tank from our 601 Pennsylvania Ave. office to our 20th and K Street office when we moved into that space about 8 years ago.
Within a few weeks, something happened to the tank. I came in one morning and the water was so cloudy that you could not see through it. I changed the water and the filter and everything that I could. But, one at a time, the three tropicals died. But not the pleco. He lived through it and soon found himself alone in the tank.
Over the years, the fish grew and grew. He stopped hiding and hung out in the front of the tank. In case you don't know, plecos don't really do anything. They don't swim around much. They just kind of sit there. And that is what mine did. Over time he grew so big that people started mistaking him for a rock and asking if I had any fish in the tank. A former partner of mine used to come visit him from time to time. She insisted that he have a name. When I refused - "It is a fish!" I told her - she named him Spot.
So, for the last five years or so he has been known as Spot and he has lived in my office. Secretaries and colleagues have taken care of him when I have been on vacation, or traveled, each of them admitting upon my return that they were afraid that Spot would die while I was gone.
OK, having already made this short story very long, let me fast forward. The moving people were not going to move the fish tank. So, I had to do it myself. But there were lots of problems with the idea of moving it to the new office. So, late last night I went back into the office and brought it home. Spot has now been transferred to our 100 gallon tank at home, where he has been sitting, like a rock, in the same spot for close to 24 hours now. Just like he used to do in my office.
Anyway, I was thinking about the move from Spot's perspective. I don't want to go too far with the personification - again, it is a fish. But, think about it. His entire world has been that 10 gallon tank. Last night, out of nowhere, it goes all topsy-turvy. Literally. Everything shakes, the water is sloshing all around, he is being swished back and forth across the tank on the drive. Then the ultimate. A hand reaches down and using a giant net (actually he is so big that he didn't fit in the net, he kind of laid across it) plucks him out of the water so that he can't even breathe. Surely the world was coming to an end.
But, in the end, he finds himself back in a steady environment. This one huge, ten times bigger. It is scary to be in a big new place, but ultimately it is better than cramped in that little tank.
Thinking about the process has made me think about times things have been shaken up in my world. Times when things have been completely out of control. Times where the process of change has been uncomfortable. Where I have found myself somewhere different than I was before. I think about how God uses those times. The process of growing in this relationship with Christ has not always been one of being led straight forward down a flower-lined path. Unlike Spot (I told you there were limits on my personification), I know what the goal is. I can remind myself that God is with me and that God is holding my hand through whatever it is. I can tell myself that God will use the situation in some way. But, even so, sometimes it is just as scary and hard to understand as Spot's Big Move must have been for him.
I was thinking about what passage to include here and I think Psalm 23 fits what I am thinking about and reflects the praises that I lift up tonight. It is familiar to most, but I include it below as my prayer for the evening.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
For you are with me;
your rod and your staff they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
I will be in Kenya for the next week and a half. I do not expect that I will have very good internet access - if any at all - for most of the trip. I very likely will keep a journal while I am there and I probably will share at least some of that and my thoughts while being there upon my return. Until then - take care everyone. And God Bless You.