September 21, 2021

Feel Like a Fish Out of Water?

Written by Shana Schutte

You have been made on purpose for a purpose.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 21, 2021

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.  Ephesians 2:10

There once was a man who netted three trout from a mountain stream and carefully placed them side-by-side on a thick patch of grass. Before he removed them from the water, they were like a liquid ballet in motion. Fluid. Graceful. Vibrant. Alive.

After he netted them, it was another story. As the trout lay on the grass, they were motionless. Their eyes were fixed. They gasped for air, and they looked — and acted — stupid.

The man noticed they seemed unhappy, so he talked to them, hoping that his encouragement would change them. “Little fish, don’t be sad. You’ll like the grass. Just try it out for a while.” No movement. No response. No change. A few more seconds passed. The man’s neighbor walked by. “Hey, Bob! Come and check out these fish!”

Bob sauntered over and the man explained that he was certain the fish could adjust. “I’m sure they could prosper here on the grass. Don’t you agree?”

“Why not?” Bob replied. So he also tried to tell the fish it would be good if they learned to like the grass. After all, he liked the grass. Why shouldn’t they?

Still, the fish didn’t blink. They just lay there looking dumber by the second. Finally, a little boy approached and exclaimed, “What are you doing? Put them back! They can’t be all they’ve been created to be when they are out of the water.”

Finally convinced, the man carefully placed each fish back in the stream. After splashing for a split second, all three swam away effortlessly. Again, it was like a liquid ballet. What ease! What grace! What beauty!

In that moment, the man realized that no matter how long the fish lay there they would never adjust to the grass and would never be satisfied — no matter how much he (or anyone else) told them otherwise. Even if the fish tried to convince themselves they could learn to like the grass, they never would, and they would never prosper. In fact, they would eventually die.

Do you feel like a fish out of water? Your prolonged dissatisfaction, God-given gifts, passions, and the voices of others could be telling you that you were created for other work. And like these fish, if you feel like you are dying inside, listen up. It could be just what you need to push you into another, more satisfying ocean.

Listen to your dissatisfaction. Don’t get me wrong; dissatisfaction doesn’t mean you are out of God’s will (Ephesians 6:10-12) but it can be a road sign that He has a different assignment for you. So, if you’re miserable in your current career or job, (and you have been for a long time), you’ve prayed, sought counsel, looked for guidance through Scripture, and you’re still miserable, consider that God may have something new for you to do. 

Listen to others. Just as dissatisfaction can be a road sign from God to show you what He has called you to do, listening to what others say about you can do the same; so when someone notices or comments on one of your talents, take note. God may be trying to tell you something through His people about how He wants to use you. 

Pay attention to your gifts. Have you ever considered your gifts and talents? Everyone has gifts and talents (1 Peter 4:10). Are you a strategic thinker? A great listener? Can you motivate others to action with your words? I suggest making a list of the things and activities that interest you or in which you excel. You can also ask yourself, “What’s the one thing that I do better than others?” This can also clue you in to a new career path or work.  

Listen to your passions. If I could ask you what makes you angry, joyful, excited, or passionate, what would you say? Take note of when your emotions are moved; these times can be a sign of your God-given purpose or career too! 

Lastly, consider that the Lord made you on purpose (Psalm 139). And, nothing He creates is without purpose. He creates everything—and everyone—for a reason. He wants to use you to serve others with the gifts He has given you.


Lord, thank you that you want to use me to serve others with the gifts you have given me. Help me to be diligent in seeking you for direction and to live intentionally by using my gifts in my work. Amen.


Get out a piece of paper and answer the questions:  What makes me dissatisfied in my work? What gifts has God given me? What am I most passionate about or when are my emotions most moved? What do others say my gifts are?

Related Reading

Colossians 3:23-24; Proverbs 16:3; 1 Corinthians 10:31

Worship Resource

Chris Tomlin: Take My Life and Let it be


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