This week I finally had a chance to watch the Pixar movie, Soul. It was every bit as good as I had heard it would be. Something that stuck with me was a little metaphorical story one of the characters told another.
Once there was a little fish who always wanted to swim in the ocean. This fish spent every day trying to find the ocean. One day he met a much older fish and asked him, “how do I get to the ocean?” The old fish replied, “you’re already there! This is the ocean!” The little fish said, “here? This is just water! I want the ocean!”
Oh how often I am that little fish! How often does God say to me, “what you’re really looking for is right here!” Yet I am still swimming around, looking at the wrong things, and completely missing the incredible blessings and opportunities in this corner of the ocean.
It is likely that we all do this from time to time because it is in our human nature to focus on the bad things, our failings, and all the ways in which life is not as we want it to be. It is part of the old survival skills of our ancient brain. It is dangerous to ignore mistakes that could leave us vulnerable to predators and our earliest ancestors lived longer when they paid attention to missteps and faults.
But failures, holes in our plans, and mistakes can be hypnotic. All those things that never panned out as we had hoped can cast a spell of doubt that keeps us from seeing reality. Like the little fish, we can see only water when we are already in the ocean!
Jesus uses a tiny mustard seed to show his disciples that what they are seeking they already have (Luke 17:4-6). When faced with Jesus’ instructions to forgive others, they seemed to think they needed larger quantities of faith to accomplish this very difficult task of forgiveness! “Increase our faith!” they plead. Yet, Jesus tells them all that is required is no more than a mustard seed-sized faith. They already have what they need.
As Shepherd of the Hills continues to move forward, with the pandemic moving slowly into our rear-view mirror, it is easy, and in fact normal, to think of what we have not done, ministries that had to be paused, and obstacles that may or may not lay ahead. Yet, it is good to remember it only takes a tiny seed of faith to do all God is calling us to do. We are not just swimming in any old water, waiting for the right things to happen, we are already swimming in an ocean overflowing with God’s blessings!