(a reprint of an old favorite )

A few years ago, we had an underwater emergency at our house. One of my son’s goldfish was discovered in extreme physical distress. He was swimming erratically and was continually opening and closing his mouth. Upon closer examination, we arrived at the correct diagnosis. The goldfish had nearly swallowed a piece of gravel. Apparently, this one stone was just the right shape to slide a little too far in, and it was lodged tightly in the fish’s throat. If it was not removed, the fish would die.

What is one to do? You can’t call 911, and and you can’t take a 97-cent goldfish to the veterinarian. We could not, however, just abandon this fish. He was part of the family! He stayed in my son’s room. My son saw him off to bed and greeted him every morning. There was too much emotional attachment just to let him die in agony. Once the decision was made to administer first aid, we sprung into action. The kitchen table was cleared, and our family gathered around the patient. Knowing that the Heimlich maneuver (using an abdominal thrust to force air from the lungs upward to clear the air passage) is successful with humans, we tried doing this on the fish. Only after several attempts did it dawn on me that fish don’t have lungs! I will spare you the details of some more unsuccessful procedures.

Then we did what we should have done to start with, we prayed (I Thess. 5:17). After interceding for both the fish and the surgeon (my wife), she began trying to extract the embedded gravel with a pair of tweezers while holding the slippery fish in her hands. We all held our breath. At what seemed like the last moment before the goldfish would expire, the gravel came out. The goldfish was plopped back in the bowl of water and a cheer went up.

What may seem to you to be a minor coincidence was a great lesson to all of us on the power of prayer. Now you may be thinking the great spiritual lessons are only taught from the pulpit or in solemn moments. God, however, instructed us to both learn and teach His truth through the normal activities and experiences of life (Deuteronomy 6:6-7).

We should strive to use as much of our time as possible to learn of God and to teach His truth to others. We can do this by constantly asking the Lord to teach us through all of our experiences.

The goldfish quickly recovered from his ordeal, but for months afterward, whenever we saw the little goldfish we were reminded of the lessons learned from the God who made him and us. For those in our home, there was no doubt that God exists and He hears and answers prayer.