Thankful for the Fishbowl

When Lance and I first stepped into full-time ministry, I was speaking with someone who looked at me and said, “Welcome to the ministry, your life is now a fishbowl!”  I knew the implied connotation of the comment, and that it was meant as a warning for me, but I wasn’t exactly feeling grateful for the heads up, so to speak. It left a sour taste where something sweet had been just moments before and was followed up with a statement that everything I do, or that my family does, will now be looked at under a microscope and inspected equally for both perfection and flaws.

I knew that regardless of the impact of the comment, there was truth within the metaphor, and so I have often prayed and asked the Lord to reveal His truth and His intent in the staying power of those words.  Why do I continue to refer back to something that felt so awkward in the moment?  Why do I often think about what was said if, at the time, my only desire was to quickly rid my heart of the unpleasant flavor it had just tasted?  Why?  Because the Holy Spirit wanted to share something good; something that would remove the taint, the seed of something negative in a beautiful picture God was painting and use it to empower rather than promote or establish frustration that the slide of my life would be continuously under the lens of judgment.

It was recently that I discovered that rather than feeling bitter or anxious that the walls that keep us hidden and behind closed doors had now become glass features that many would come to see and inspect, I actually felt more freedom.  You see, fishbowls, when cared for properly, display the beautiful work of God and His creation that is otherwise hidden in the depths and darkness of the sea and subject to the dirt that swirls within the currents.  Fishbowls, unlike the seas or rivers, lakes, and ponds require constant care and cleaning, being careful to constantly filter the filth that would dare to invade the crystal-clear waters.

I am thankful and grateful for the constant need to keep the water around me clean and clear. I am thankful also for the filter of the Holy Spirit that recognizes what isn’t clean and works with me to remove it quickly.  I pray that my life would reflect the work of Jesus and would declare His goodness and love towards me, just as the glass on a fishbowl lets you see not only what lies behind the glass but also the reflection of what stands before the glass.  And finally, I thank the Lord that He has lifted me out of the deep, given me beauty for ashes, and stands before me, protecting what He has given to me, and looking for the hidden treasure He placed perfectly in the water to be seen and revealed.

My life may be a fishbowl, but ministry didn’t create the fishbowl.  Each one of us lives in our own fishbowl of sorts.  The Bible tells us that there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, nor anything secret that will not be brought to light.  Some of us may be more aware of our transparent and vulnerable home, but everybody, whether fully conscious of that truth or not, is seen before God.  Our life should be hidden in Him and not behind walls that hold our sin and shame behind closed doors.  This fishbowl I live in is kept by Him, and every sin, every guilt, and every condemnation are filtered through the cross and cleansed by the power of His Spirit.  The desire for what once muddied the waters has been replaced with the joy that is found in His presence and in His beautiful clear water. 

I pray you find that same joy.  Ask the Lord to remove the walls and to replace them with beautiful glass that reveals His goodness and keeping over your life.  When we lay our lives before Him, the walls we found to be so strong will crumble at His feet.  We should all trade our walls for fishbowls and dare to find the freedom that lies within.  The work of God in our life is meant to be seen and meant to be shared.  When we are courageous enough to step out from behind the wall and jump into the fishbowl, we are given everything we need to keep that bowl clean as well as the desire to remain there with Him and share the beauty of His glory. 

Mark 4:22 – Also He said to them, “Is a lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Is it not to be set on a lampstand? 22 For there is nothing hidden which will not be revealed, nor has anything been kept secret but that it should come to light.”
Quinn Pruett