I once heard the story of a young fish who lived just off the coast of Virginia. He was hatched there and had spent all of his life eating and splashing in the waves. He lived his life like an ordinary fish, but he had a strange longing in his heart. He wanted excitement. He wanted adventure. He wanted something more than a life spent eating and swimming.
One day a boat from the port nearby floated past where he was swimming and the young fish swam over to investigate. As he drew near he overheard the passengers onboard the boat begin to share about the great adventures they had heard of sailing the high seas. They told tales of great battles, shipwrecks, whale hunts and pirates. The young fish listened attentively. In each of these stories the men spoke of something called “the ocean” which was where these magnificent adventures took place. The fish was very curious about what this “ocean” might be. It seemed the ocean was a place that was full of surprises and adventure. The ocean was a place where he felt he must be able to find meaning for his life. He needed to find the great ocean.
The next day the young fish swam to the front of his school and asked the wisest old fish if he knew where he could find the ocean. The wise fish smiled and asked the fish why. The young fish explained that he had heard tell of the great adventures that could be had there. He told the old fish the stories he had heard of battle and treasure and glory. He insisted if he could just find the ocean that he would be able to live a life of meaning himself. The old fish leaned in and told the young fish that he would happily help him, but warned the journey would not be easy. The little fish assured the older that he was ready for whatever challenges lay ahead of him. The older fish then whispered, “the ocean is all around you, you’ve swam it it’s waters all your life; if it’s a life of meaning that you are seeking; you need to open your eyes to the possibilities that lay in the waves that meet you each day.”
I’d like to suggest that to often the Christian life reflects a similar story. Many Christians are inspired by the stories of faith that they have heard but seem unaware that the story is continuing all around them. They believe that God has done great things and they long to be a part of it. They wonder what God could do with them if they would just move into a far off mission field, or join a monastery or become a priest. The reality, however, is that God’s kingdom is all around us. We believe that Jesus reigns over the whole universe. There is no home, neighborhood, city, workplace or community that God is not seeking to draw to himself. The kingdom of God is indeed all around us, and we are called to open our eyes to the opportunities to join Jesus every day.