At 10 years old I loved my barbies, dancing to Chantilly Lace and the Big Bopper on my record player, and playing dominoes with my Poppy Frank. I don’t think I had ever been to the ocean, but I did love our city’s community pool and swam like a fish for hours there, and then filled up on rainbow snowcones afterward. At 10 years old, life was about me.
But this weekend, while on a weekend work/play getaway with my girls in Boca Raton, I met Victoria.
The fishermen were casting nets at the ocean’s edge. I watched in curiosity as one teenage fisherman pulled in a net filled with tiny silver fish. My girls and I watched as the young fisherman dump the shiny creatures into a white 5 gallon bucket. Interested in what was happening, I learned that these small fish were anchovies – and the fishermen were catching them to sell to restaurants. As they dumped the anchovies into buckets, many would fall on the barren sand where their short lives would end unless they somehow wiggled their way back to the water, a near impossible task.
In runs ten-year-old Victoria. She begins scooping the flopping anchovies as fast as possible, tossing them into her little red toy pail filled with water. With a distressed expression, Victoria asked if my on-looking family wanted to help her “save the anchovies.” All of us fell on our hands and knees to join Victoria in her mission. One by one we identified live anchovies and tossed them into her bucket.
With the night sky rolling in, Victoria hurriedly placed the small pail filled with dozens of rescued anchovies on top of her head and carried them to the sandbar to release them and give them a second chance at life.
Over and over again, Victoria waited for the fishermen to dump the anchovies, and then rushed to rescue the dying. My family joined her in her endearing quest.
I don’t know how many anchovies Victoria saved that night, but I couldn’t help seeing the heart of Jesus in that passionate child as she frantically worked to save as many little fish as she could. (And, folks it wasn’t even salmon, or tuna, or shrimp that we would all desire. It was tiny little anchovies that I pick off my pizza and throw away.) Jesus goes after the least of these-the throwaways, the leftovers, the seemingly unimportant. He tirelessly seeks that one lost soul, never growing weary, never slumpering in his passionate effort to save and to rescue.
What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. 14 In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:12-14