This is the story of Plum Pudding and his disastrous decisions. But it didn’t start out that way. No. When Plum Pudding came to my home, it was all good things and happiness.
You see, Plum Pudding was the prettiest little goldfish. And he had a friend named Polly. They were our first ever family pets. Not the pets my girls wanted, mind you. They would have preferred a kitten or a puppy. Even a rabbit or guinea pig would have been better.
Now of course fish can't be bad or good . . . But it sure seemed like Plum Pudding was a bit of a bully.
But all those pets are complicated.
What could be complicated about two little cute goldfish?
Things. That’s what.
Take, for example, the time we found hundreds and thousands of tadpoles in the fountain of the ruined mansion near our home. We thought they would make excellent friends for Plum Pudding. And we wanted to see them grow into little froggies. But that didn’t happen at all.
The morning after we put the tadpoles in with Plum Pudding, we woke up to see how they were doing. But we couldn’t see them. At first we thought they might be in the little fishy rock house in the tank. But they weren’t. Nor were they behind the plastic seaweed. They hadn’t burrowed under the pebbles at the bottom of the tank, either.
And that’s when we noticed something.
Plum Pudding looked substantially bigger than he had the night before.
Plum Pudding, you didn’t!
He just looked at us lazily. Did you? A bubble came slowly out of his mouth. You did! You ate all our tadpoles—every single one. You are such a greedy guts!
And that wasn’t all that he ate. You see, every time we fed our fish, the flakes floated on top of the water for a few minutes. Plum Pudding would frantically eat as fast as he could. If Polly tried to come to the surface to eat, Plum Pudding would chase her away. Poor Polly only got the scraps that floated to the bottom of the tank.
Now, of course, fish can’t be bad or good. They don’t have the kind of brain that allows them to know what is right. But it sure seemed like Plum Pudding was a bit of a bully. And even though he was one of my girls’ fish, and even though she loved him very much, we all had to agree that his manners were appalling. He was just so selfish—he didn’t think about poor Polly at all. But something pretty weird happened to Plum Pudding—which I will tell you about in a minute—and what happened to him reminded me of something strange that Jesus said.
You see, we’re often told on TV and magazines that the people who accumulate the most stuff are the most important, and those who have nothing—well, they aren’t very important at all. We don’t always say it like that. But watch how poor people are treated, and then watch how rich people are treated. And I think you’ll see what I mean.
You almost never see poor people on magazine covers, for example. And there are no crowds running to be near poor people. But if you’re rich . . . Well, everyone wants to be with you. And one thing that’s really strange—people love to give rich people free stuff. For example, movie stars get lots of free clothing and jewellery from companies. In fact, they get so much they even have a word for it: “swag”. And people are always giving presents to royalty and presidents. As if they couldn’t buy something if they wanted to! I’ve seen lots of poor people and you know what? I’ve never seen crowds rushing to be near them or people falling over each other trying to give them free stuff—even though they could really use it.
Think of a poor girl who has never been to school. She doesn’t even know how to read! She sleeps on the footpath and uses the alleys of her city for a toilet. Her clothes are rags. Now obviously a person like that just isn’t very important, is she? When Jesus comes again He will surely say to her, “I’m too busy for you, I want to spend time with all the great people of this earth—the movie stars, the big business people, the presidents and prime ministers, people who have won singing shows, those sorts of people, not you . . .”
But this is what makes Jesus so confusing. You see, He said if you are rich, you should weep! What? Didn’t He understand things? And even worse, He said if you’re poor, you should be happy. Why? Because when He comes again, the people who are first in this world, will be last. And those who are last, they will be first.
I would feel very happy about this news if I was poor. But I’m not. And probably you’re not either.
So what can we do? We don’t want to be last in God’s kingdom! The good news? We don’t have to be. You see, Jesus tells us that when the King judges the world, those who give clothes to children who don’t have any, food to those who are hungry, shelter to people who are homeless—those people will be invited into His kingdom. But only those who have clothes to give can give them. And only those with food can give food. And only those with a home can give someone a place to stay. The point is, I think, Jesus doesn’t want us to have nothing; He just wants us to be generous with what we have.
Which brings me back to Plum Pudding. You see, even though he was the most beautiful goldfish, he was not generous. No. Not one bit. In fact he was very, very greedy. He wanted everything for himself and nothing for anyone else.
One day we got big news. We were moving from America to Australia. And that meant we had to decide what to do with Plum Pudding and Polly. It’s hard to take fish on a plane. Maybe we could put them in the ocean and they would swim over to us like Nemo? But the ocean is saltwater, and goldfish don’t do well in that kind of water. We thought long and hard and then we had an idea.
Our favourite Thai restaurant, Siri’s, had the most wonderful fish tank. It was so much bigger than our little tank. And instead of a few bits and pieces, this one was full of all kinds of wonderful decorations and places for fish to play in. It was truly amazing. The best place you could ever imagine if you were a goldfish! So we took Plum Pudding and Polly to Siri’s and asked if they could come and live in the new wonderful fish tank. The owner, who we knew quite well, thought about it for a minute, then said “yes!”
We put our lovely goldfish in the water and watched them swim around. Polly went and hid. But not Plum Pudding. Even though there were fish much bigger than him, he swam around like he owned the tank.
A year later we returned to America. And you can guess who we wanted to visit! We dropped by Siri’s and there was some very good news. Polly had grown up. She was now a large, bright goldfish with perfectly shimmering scales.
But what about Plum Pudding?
“I have some bad news,” the restaurant owner told us. “Plum Pudding became very, very big. He just kept on eating. Then one day, his stomach couldn’t take it anymore and, pop, he blew open!” “No!” we said in disbelief. “Yes, its true,” he told us.
And that made me think back on those strange words of Jesus. You see, I thought Plum Pudding was going to be first in the new wonderful fish tank. And I was afraid for little Polly. But I was so wrong. The very thing that had made Plum Pudding grow strong and big in the little fish tank, was exactly the thing that destroyed him in the new beautiful tank. And the thing that made Polly small and weak had helped her to survive and thrive in the new tank.
The first really was last. And the last was now first.
Now, think like a goldfish. Where would you rather be first? In a tiny little fish tank. Or in a huge beautiful fish tank? Yeah, me too, give me the lovely big fish tank any day! Now think about yourself. Where would you like to be first? In this grubby old earth with all its problems? Or in a new earth that’s so wonderful, we can’t even imagine it?
James Standish is editor of Adventist Record.