September 22, 2014

My Goal for the Week: Fishing and Faith

Yesterday morning in church, I was listening to Pastor Jeff's sermon at East Cross UMC. For those of you who know me and know my family well, you'll find it hard to believe that I was listening because you'll find it hard to believe that I was allowed to listen. But, I was.

The sermon was part of a series about Margin. Margin is the "extra" that you have in your life. Extra time, extra opportunities, even extra finances.

Unfortunately, I (individually) and we (mi familia) don't have a lot of Margin in our lives. Every last minute of our days seem to be occupied in one way or another. We're teachers, so our fiscal Margin is locked up pretty tight. Our margin? All the way around, it's tiny.

As in tiny.

The first week of this series, Pastor Jeff handed out mini-composition books and asked us to take five minutes out of every day to be still, be quiet and be aware of any messages God might be speaking to us and to write those down at the end of the five minutes. Sadly, I fell asleep the first three times I sat still and quiet for five minutes. That, my friends, is how much Margin I don't have.

Yesterday, however, I was reminded of a folk tale from Cuba or Guatemala or Africa (I'm not up on geography) that I taught to my seventh graders my first year of teaching. I've always loved this fish tale and in that moment when I was still and listening, I heard what I was going to have to do to get my Margin.

A Fish Story

In the village, it was common practice for the villagers to give to the church their tithes and offerings whenever it became available to give. If a sold a donkey on a Thursday afternoon, he'd go directly to the church to give his offering. If a woman received a payment for a payment for her crops on a Saturday night, she'd go directly to her pastor and give her offering.

This was true for non-monetary offerings as well. If there was a bumper crop of corn, a portion was taken to the church to feed the poor. If a pig was butchered, a portion was taken to the church to feed those who were hungry. If a tree were cut down for firewood, a portion was stacked at the church for those who needed heat and warmth. 

A young boy who was well known around the village went fishing one day. Excitedly, he ran to the parsonage to find the priest and give his first official offering.

"Father! Father!," he cried carrying a large fish in one hand and his pole in the other, "I am here to give my offering!"

The pastor took the fish and smiled. "You must have had an excellent day fishing! If you are offering this fish to the Lord, then that must mean you've caught ten fish."

The boy smiled even bigger and said, "Not yet."


I love it. I love that this kid's faith was leading his every single movement. This kid was so sure, so certain that he'd have a bounty, that he made his offering first and then set out to finish his task.

This week, I will believe that my Margins will enlarge. I will do what I'm called to do first, and then I'll do what I need to do and what I want to do. That, my friends, is my goal for this week.

What do you have planned for this week?


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