Geraldine was a goldfish who lived in a fine, big, shiny bowl. She was a beautiful fish. Sometimes when you looked at her she shone bright and gold like a new penny. At other times when the light was dim she seemed to be wearing a purple gown. As she swam her long fins waved like fans and her lacy tail followed her like a bride's train.
Geraldine lived a very easy life. All she had to do was swim around and around in the fish bowl and show how pretty she was. That was Geraldine's day's work. Around and around in the same old circles. Around and around the fish bowl. One day her owner felt sorry for her and said, "What a pity she has to swim in such small circles. She belongs in a lake where she will be free to swim wherever she wants to." He took Geraldine and put her in a lake and waited to see how happy she would be with her new freedom. "Now she can swim in big circles," he said. But not Geraldine. She kept swimming in small circles just as she had done in the fish bowl. She was in a rut. Her owner said, "If she does not want to be free, I might just as well put her back in the fish bowl again." Back into the bowl went Geraldine. She swam around in the same small circles and was very, very contented.
Sometimes God says, "There is a soul that could swim in larger circles. I'll send her the grace to set her free." And He does. But the poor soul, just like the goldfish, around and around. God says, "If the soul does not wish to swim in wider circles, I will take away the grace and give it to someone else." The soul keeps right on the way it was and is very, very contented. Contented? But so is a cow. The whole trouble is she never knows how free she might have been. How friendly. How busy. How kind. How gentle. How brave. That soul never learned that "Where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty." "The freedom of the glory of the sons of God."
Do not let yourselves get into a rut like Geraldine. Keep looking for the larger circles —more grace, more prayer, more kindness, more learning, more strength—so that your soul may spread itself, like the ripples on a lake when a stone is thrown into it. Let your soul spread wider and wider till it touches the opposite shore where God is waiting for you.
Source: "Heirs of the Kingdom," Imprimatur 1949