A group of golfers in San Juan Capistrano had a bit of a surprise as they approached the 12th hole tee box. Laying there writhing around on the ground was a live 2-foot shark! The shark had a couple of puncture wounds that suggested a bird of some sort had scooped it up out of the nearby ocean and tried to fly away with the “catch of the day.” Perhaps the shark was wiggling so dramatically that he broke free and fell down on the golf course.
Regardless of how he got there, that shark was definitely “a fish out of water!”
As that phrase was bouncing around in my mind, I took the time to look up the derivation of the expression. Apparently no one is certain how it came into use, but Chaucer employed a version of it in The Canterbury Tales. (“A monk when he is cloisterless, is like to a fish that is waterless.”)
The expression means to be in a situation that you feel unsuited for. It is the idea of being out of your element. You feel awkward and displaced.
Truthfully every Christian ought to feel a bit like a fish out of water. Much like that dumb shark that got scooped up out of his natural environment, you and I who claim a relationship with Christ are indeed out of our real element.
The old hymn by Alfred Brumly, “This World is Not My Home” says it well. “This world is not my home. I’m just a passing through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
We spend so much time living like this world is our permanent home. We plan, we save, we maneuver, we stress, we over extend our bodies, minds and resources as if we were permanent residents of the good old earth. And truth be known, we are just passing through.
Maybe this week would be a good time to muse a bit on the words Paul shared with Timothy in I Timothy 2:12-13. “…live self-contained, upright and Godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope-the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Christians may be out of our element; sometimes we may even feel a bit awkward. We don’t always fit in with our culture. And theologically speaking, we are in a situation that we are unsuited for. So while we wait…let’s keep our minds and hearts focused on our real home.
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel