Of Fish and Faith
by John UpChurch
“So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life - your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life - and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Romans 12:1 (MSG)
My stint manning the meat counter at the Fresh Market lasted half a day. I needed a job; they needed someone to wrap up fish. Seemed like a good match.
By way of an interview, the manager glanced at my résumé and then scowled at me. I could weigh meat and smile. That got me in the apron and behind the salmon. Still, it was a job, and I was hyped. For about an hour.
My training consisted of a fellow worker—a kid a few years younger than me at the time—pointing out the scales and the paper and telling me when breaks were. Needless to say, I floundered with the flounder, my chuck looked chucked, and my meat wrapping wasn’t so meaty.
By lunch, I’d completely lost my appetite thanks to the ground beef, snarling manager, and disgusted looks from customers. I didn’t let the door hit me on the way out.
Sometimes, I live my faith like that as well, minus the fish smell, of course. I get pumped at the start—on Sunday—and even during the week by diving into the action-movie known as Mark’s gospel or Luke’s adventure stories. I’m ready to kung-fu chop the world with some gospel awesomeness.
But when the meat hits the scales, when my everyday life comes crowding in, my gospel skills suddenly get messy. Not literally. I simply fail to speak when someone talks about a general faith in something; I don’t bother to help everyone who really needs help; I don’t show love because I’m too caught up in my own not-enough-sleep-Monday blah.
I just don’t live what I believe all the time. It’s hard, so I too often let it go.
Intersecting Faith and Life: It’s easy to think of people in the Bible as “heroes” with a life filled with derring-do, but that’s only somewhat true. They had flashes of awesome, when God showed up and broke armies, smashed walls, and shoved back the waves. But we mainly just see the highlights in Scripture, the big moments when monumental things happened. It’s God’s story, after all. And He does big stuff.
But those “heroes” also had moments of normal—lots of them. Moments when they wondered why they were stuck herding sheep, moments when they wondered if God cared about their same-ol’-same-ol’ routine, moments when they wondered if God even heard their prayers, moments when they just wanted something to happen.
You see, normal moments—those times when we’re not charged up and ready to march around our office building like Jericho—are the very moments that our faith is being shaped. When we’re excited about a sermon, that’s great, and fire seems to be flattening all resistance. But when we’re faced with monotony, that’s when our faith life really comes out, our true nature. We have to live our faith in those moments most of all because those are the times when it’s hardest to shine.
For Further Reading