For Cole’s fifth birthday, we bought him a fish, which he named Goldfish. Goldfish has become legendary at our house, and we love to tell her ‘fish tales’ over and over. Though the story I’m going to tell today is the last story of Goldfish’s long and eventful life, its lesson is great. My hope is that you might pass this fish tale on to a little somebody at your house:

Though I wasn’t privy to the conversation, I imagine that at some point, Goldfish’s parents sat her down and said, “Honey, someday you will be sent to a family of your own. If you’re lucky, you’ll get your own fishbowl and be able to swim and play and do whatever you like all day long. But there is one rule. It is a rule that you must follow without compromise. Here it is: You must not jump out of the fishbowl. If you do this, you will die. But if you stay in the fishbowl, you will live a long, fulfilling fish life.”

Along with her parents, we hoped that this would be the case for Goldfish. Cole loved her very much and spent hours watching Goldfish gracefully make the rounds in her rippling, clear quarters. To give her new scenery, we often moved Goldfish’s bowl. We put her on the kitchen counter. We put her on a bookshelf. Sometimes we moved her up to Cole’s room. But the problem came when we moved her to the basement.

I imagined that Goldfish would enjoy watching the kids play legos and hide-and-go-seek down in their playroom. But I suppose she felt lonely when they left to go outside or come up for a snack. Perhaps, Goldfish even became jealous, thinking, “I wish that I could leave this dreary old fish tank and go join the rest of my family. This round hunk of glass is holding me back!”

One fateful day, when Goldfish was all alone in the basement, she decided to ignore the (presumed) advice of her parents. I imagine she muttered something like, “My parents were wrong about this. I don’t think they were very good parents. I think they were keeping the good life from me–keeping me all cooped up in this bowl.”

And so, Goldfish jumped from her bowl. And in that moment, she discovered a world without water.

She had probably never thought much about water. She had been drenched in water her whole life, and had never considered what a water-less existence would be like. But she found out the hard way on our carpeting, where she died.

What a sad, sad ending.

It reminds me of another story with a sad ending. This story had only one rule, too–a tree in the middle of a garden that was forbidden. I suppose that like Goldfish, Eve muttered, “God was wrong about this. I don’t think he is a very good God. I think he’s keeping the good life from me–keeping this magical fruit which will make me like Him out of reach.”

So, she ignored the rule, took the fruit and ate. And in that moment, she discovered the world of evil and death.

Goldfish was foolish to try and be like a person and jump from her bowl. Eve was foolish to try and be like God and eat the fruit. But we are just as foolish when we fail to learn from their lesson, and break the rules which God intends for our protection.

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