I tuned-in to the radio station just as he was telling the story about a walleye pike in a large fish tank. Several minnows are placed in the tank at the far end. The walleye sees them and swiftly jets into their area to catch his dinner before they can scatter. He dines. After his meal he decides he wants another; and, just as before, he charges the minnows now in another area of the tank, and again he captures a minnow for his meal; and later another.
A clear plate-glass wall is inserted into the tank to separate the minnows from the walleye. Just as before, the walleye charges the minnows as they attempt to scatter. But this time the walleye runs smack into the plate-glass with a thud and bounces back. He is stunned and confused. He hovers there looking through the plate-glass not able to understand what has happened. The minnows were there before and he had caught them? And they are there now–he can see them!
He swims away to begin a new charge at the minnows. But this time he charges just a little slower, and hits the plate-glass wall just a little softer. The action is repeated several times with the walleye approaching just a little slower and hitting the wall just a little softer each time, until finally the behavior is totally extinguished. He’s gotten the message; the minnows are there but they are not available to him. The plate-glass wall is removed and the minnows swim into the area of the walleye pike. They swim up to and around him and even bump his fins— and he does nothing. He now knows that no matter how close they are, they are not accessible to him. And there in a tank filled with his favorite food, the walleye pike starves to death
The story was told by Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. If you know his work and ministry, you know that he told the story as an illustration of how children can be taught to not try. After being ridiculed for unsuccessful efforts, many simply give up, never to try again. Similar illustrations have been used to describe the lasting effects of racial discrimination. But, as I heard the story, it brought to mind the strength of the local church and the fellowshipping of Believers.
In his book, Love Not the World, the late Watchman Nee argues that the fellowshipping (meeting together) of Believers on a weekly or twice-weekly basis is essential for keeping one another strong and protected from the snares laid daily by the enemies of Christ. He likens the gathering of Believers to a foot washing that refreshes by the removal of the cares of the world as we go about our daily tasks.
Without this foot-washing Believers would gradually weaken as we go about our lives facing opposition to our faith. Eventually we would be overtaken by those who have no faith, and the world is left without any witness to the glory of what Christ had planned for all who would accept Him.
It is the daily and personal encouragement of pastors and fellow Believers that keeps us going when we run into that plate-glass wall, and keeps before the broaderworld the opportunity to accept Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:11(NIV) 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 John 13:10 (NIV) 10 Jesus answered, “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.”
John 1:10-12 (NIV) 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God–