My intent was to get a picture of the bigger fish. Zach, my 11 year-old, will have had that fish for two years this April. Goldfish are supposed to live like what, a few months? I’ve always thought that pet stores sell goldfish as bait or as a starter fish for kids interested in getting an aquarium. So, when we bought Zach this fish for fifty cents almost two years ago, we didn’t invest in gravel, plants or other fishy stuff. We didn’t think he’d last that long.
A few months later we bought the smaller fish because Zach was worried the first fish was lonely. They’ve been bowl mates for about a year and a half.
My wife and I can’t believe they are still alive. Zach doesn’t clean the bowl as often as he should, though it looks darker in the picture that it actually is because the room was dark. However, he never forgets to feed them each night. In the early days I would ask Zach at bedtime if he’d fed the fish. But, I could never remember their names so I’d just refer to them as famous duos in history. Zach stopped correcting me about a year ago.
Now it’s become a nightly event for me to think of new names. Zach doesn’t need the reminder, so he just humors me with an affirmative response. He gave up the courtesy giggle a long time ago. It all started with Orville and Wilbur, the Wright Brothers. The next night they were Statler and Waldorf, the old hecklers from The Muppet Show. They’ve been many others, like Cheech & Chong, Bo & Luke, Obama & Biden, and, one of my wife’s favorites, Cagney & Lacey.
These fish will not live forever. The only reason their demise will have an effect on me is because of the effect it will have on Zach. They are creatures whose existences are inconsequential to me except for the occasional bedtime chuckle.
But that’s not how Zach feels about them. He knows when they misbehave and when they are having fun. He cares about whether or not they have been fed and he asks mom to help when the water needs to be changed. I don’t know why he cares for them so much.
The same can be said for God’s care of us. For some reason, God is concerned about us, even though we mess up so much. In fact, he never even messes up our names. Check out what he says to Israel, to the people who chose to follow him in the Old Testament: “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1, NLT)”
Did you know that shepherds know the names of their sheep? Here’s how Jesus uses this analogy to show his love for us: “The gatekeeper opens the gate for [The Good Shepherd], and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (John 10:3, NLT)”
So you have nothing to worry about. Jesus won’t flush you down the toilet or use you as fertilizer. You are incredibly important to him. He goes way beyond tolerating your existence. He loves you.
And, he’ll never forget your name.