700 Miles With a 15 Year Old Fish

Do you know anyone who thinks they have all the answers? The type of person who walks through life believing that they understand everything. These people can normally list every place, behavior, and combination of words to avoid. They typically think that they know who is going to Heaven, but more importantly (to them, at least) they know who’s going to Hell. Unfortunately, these people commonly call themselves Christians. Perhaps that’s why so many people (myself included) prefer to distance themselves from the title of Christian.

No one knows everything.

Thinking you know everything is foolish.

Thinking you know everything is messy.

Earlier this month I drove from Pentwater, Michigan to St. Paul, Minnesota. I was helping some very good friends move to their new home. The three of us were each responsible for driving a vehicle packed full of belongings for the entirety of the 700 mile trip.  We set off early in the morning, it was a beautiful winter day in Michigan. Cold, but sunny. For those of you not familiar with sunny winter days, they really can be beautiful. The sun reflecting off the snow can be almost blindingly bright. The roads were clear and my phone was full of podcasts; it was bound to be a good trip. Now since we had three vehicles, and three drivers, we didn’t have any passengers to keep us company. Well, no human passengers at least.

In the mid 2000’s Chevy Silverado with me was a fish. Not just any fish, a fifteen year-old fish. That’s right, 700 miles with a fifteen year-old fish.

Now that is quite ridiculous. I really believe that the list of people who have driven 700 miles with a 15 year-old fish is the most exclusive list on the planet.

Here’s the thing: fishes need water to survive. If you didn’t know that I think you should take a trip to Sea World.

I should mention my scaly companion’s name, “Mr. Fish.”  Don’t judge. He’s a formal, yet apparently, not creative, type of guy.  

Here is Mr. Fish

So, Mr. Fish needed a tank of water to survive the trip. We used a small cooler as his mobile aquarium. It wasn’t an overly large cooler, typically you would see it filled with beer at the beach, not filled with a fish in a truck.

When we filled this cooler, we made a mistake. We filled the cooler too full. Our concern was that Mr. Fish needed a lot of water for a trip of this length. So we decided to give him a lot of water. I’m sure this made Mr. Fish pretty happy. All that water had to be nice, it had to be comforting. This seems like a good idea, fish need water to live, so why not give Mr. Fish a lot of water? We forgot an essential part of driving 700 miles with a fishtank full of water.

When you drive, you move.

When you move, the water moves.

When the water moves, it splashes.

When water splashes, in the cab of a truck, things get messy. (And wet)

I got wet. The seats got wet. Almost everything in the truck got wet.

That’s what happens when you overfill a fish tank, things get messy.

Don’t overfill your fish tank.

Really practical advice right?

There’s an even more important thing to avoid overfilling.

We could call it a number of things.

Your beliefs, your convictions, your theology.

Just like Mr. Fish, it may seem like a good idea to put as much water, or “truth”, into your tank as you can fit.

Problem is: life moves. Life isn’t stationary: things change, things develop. If you’re too full of convictions or theology it’s gonna splash, it’s gonna make a mess.

Mr. Fish needs some water, or he will dry up and die. We need some definite truths, or we will go crazy.

What we don’t need, what is actually not comforting, but wrong is: too much self-made “truth”.

Don’t overfill your fish tank. But more importantly don’t overfill your theology.

If you do, your own personal “truths” will splash.

And you will make a mess.


3 thoughts on “700 Miles With a 15 Year Old Fish

  1. I work in an office where the majority of my co-workers go to the local Seminary here in Wake Forest, North Carolina. If I ever open my mouth and share a thought on Christ or His word, I often find myself cornered, talked at, and being thrown into a category of people who just “think they understand the Bible but really don’t.”

    These folks love their knowledge and love to call out fellow Christians they think are incorrect…which is pretty much whenever a believer opens their mouth. But most of the time, they throw accusations without listening to the whole story. They love to talk at people, and not to listen. They name-call, over-generalize, and say I need to grow closer in my walk with Jesus.

    They don’t represent the love or grace of Jesus; they represent the law-loving Pharisees in my mind with all their overflowing knowledge and theology.

    It’s fine to be knowledgeable. But once someone starts using it to talk AT people, they break the very relationships God calls us to build.

    Thanks for this important reminder, dude. Reminds me why I didn’t go to Seminary. Seminary creates divides.

    Jesus came to destroy these divides and bring people together, to Himself.


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