The hotel where we stayed in
Yes, koi are pretty, their scales an attractive mosaic of white, orange, yellow, and black. Most of these fish were a foot in length. I asked the keeper their value. He smiled and said, “Expensive.” An on-line search showed koi costing up to $225 each. One source said they can live a century. Unless, of course, something looking for a fish dinner shows up.
Sometimes my mind goes in strange directions, and as I watched the hungry, showy koi, I remembered a song from the 1957 Broadway show, “West Side Story.” In one scene, Maria is in high spirits because a boy has paid attention to her. She dances and sings, “I feel pretty and witty and bright!” Our culture easily connects beauty (like koi?) with desirability. But the Bible warns against linking the two. A case in point comes from the book of First Samuel. Big, muscular, handsome-hunk Saul was serving as
first king. Before being anointed king, he was described as “an impressive
young man without equal among the Israelites—a head taller than any of the
others” (1 Samuel 9:3). But a few years into his reign, his character flaws
emerged. Then came his biggest mistake: saving some booty from the raid on the
Amalekites, even though he was told to destroy everything. Israel
Off Samuel went on a secret mission to anoint a king-in-waiting. God led him to Jesse of Bethlehem, father of many big, handsome sons. But the one God chose was a little guy out in the pasture with the sheep. God saw in David the character He wanted:The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. (1 Samuel 16:7)
God’s like that. He chooses unlikely candidates and grooms them for His great assignments. They may wrestle with their human frailties in health or personality. But God isn’t limited by those. Paul wanted to be freed of a debilitating “thorn in the flesh”—whatever it was. But God designed for him to live with it, in the power of Christ, encouraging him with the words that still apply to us:My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:5)
Ministry isn’t about being colorful, big and aggressive (like those pricey koi in the hotel ponds). It’s about the golden promise that as we yield our dullness and weakness to Christ, He can transform us to love and serve Him well.