Rabid Fun

John Cowart's Daily Journal: A befuddled ordinary Christian looks for spiritual realities in day to day living.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

God, Goldfish & Gulls

Two of the goldfish we bought over the weekend died.

In the past our goldfish have lived an average of three years each, and we once had three fantails that lived in our aquarium for six or eight years.

Our fish thrive on neglect.

Recently Ginny and I have been thinking about our giving plan and the goldfish remind me of an incident when Eve was a child (maybe six or seven years old). She had acquired a treasure trove of money and wanted to give ten percent of it to God.

At the time we attended this old church near the waterfront. The churchyard (where they buried members) featured a huge fountain and a reflecting pool.

Eve decided that she would spend her tithe buying some goldfish for this pool.

I drove her to an aquarium supply store where she explained to the man what she wanted. Her tithe amounted to $3 and he sold her 30 goldfish at ten cents each; he threw in a can of fish food for free.

This was on a Saturday afternoon.

I drove her to the church where we followed the aquarium guy’s instructions about setting the plastic bags in the pool to equalize the temperature, etc. And Eve gave the can of fish food to the gardner who promised to feed the fish on his daily rounds.

Finally Eve released the fish into the pool.

Flashes of gold in the dark water added charm to the peaceful churchyard.

My little girl felt very satisfied with her gift.

Sunday morning we went to church early to visit the gold fish.


We couldn’t see a single one in the fountain pool.

The sexton approached and beckoned me off to the side.

He said that almost as soon as we had left the courtyard on releasing the gold fish, that a flock of sea gulls descended. Flashing goldfish against the dark bottom of the pool proved irresistible targets for the hungry gulls.

They ate every single one of the goldfish in a matter of minutes.

Then flew away.

Eve wanted to know what happened to the goldfish.

I explained that in ancient times when people offered bulls and rams to God that they burned the animals on a huge flaming altar; the rising smoke of the sacrifice was taken as a sign that their gift had been accepted. That it had risen into the heavens.

I told her about the seagulls eating the goldfish.

Nothing we offer to God is wasted.

He regards not the greatness of the gift but the love of the giver.

Jesus once commended a widow who offered two mites, who put her two cents worth into the offering box in the temple at Jerusalem. Her contribution went to the very people who days later would lift Jesus up on the cross. Yet He commended her for the love with which she gave, not necessarily the purpose the money went to support.

I don’t believe we can give God anything.

We are always on the receiving end of any transaction with Him.

Yet our gifts represent some measure of love or thanksgiving or appreciation or value toward Him. Like the paper cards kids make in school to give Dad on Father’s Day, our gifts have virtually no intrinsic value, yet, God appreciates the sentiment.

Like the smoke of a burning lamb, or a goldfish rising to the sky in a gull’s beak, when offered with love, our gifts are accepted in the Beloved.


Not too long ago, Ginny was making out a check for our own tithe.

The church we now attend had just announced a change in policy which seems to us to be in poor taste and stupid, if not actually anti-Christian.

Instead of making out the check to the church, Ginny made it out as a contribution to the local zoo.

Feels right to us.

Please, visit my website for more www.cowart.info and feel free to look over and buy one of my books www.bluefishbooks.info
posted by John Cowart @ 9:45 AM


At 12:41 AM, Blogger Heather said...

Yep, sounds like a good tithe to me.

I am just imagining those seagulls descending on 30 goldfish and trying not to laugh. You taught her such an important lesson!

At 11:55 AM, Blogger EveyQ said...

It made sense to me then and now.


Post a Comment

<< Home