Our Lessons in the Fisherman and His Soul

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It’s been awhile since I’ve mentioned the mermaid lessons inherent in every story so far.  This is because it’s easier to discuss them after you know the story. For the lessons make up a vital part of the overarching theme of the story…

Worldly vs. Godly Mermaids

In my first few posts, I talked about how everyone has the opportunity to be free and wild like the mermaids.  Either you are free and wild in a worldly way, or you are free and wild in Christ.

But there is another category: those who are not wild, either in the world, or in Christ.  I’d say we deal with those types of people throughout the story.

I actually wouldn’t qualify the Fisherman as a “worldly mermaid.”  That side of him is actually personified by the Soul in a negative way, and the little Mermaid in a positive way.  The Soul is clearly wild and free – but obviously personifies the clear vices of unlawful living. It is the little Mermaid, who personifies those people who are wild and free…and are good and lovely.  She personifies the people that Christians understand the least. After all, we all know of non-Christians who seem to live happier, more joyful lives than most Christians.

And we can never understand that, can we?

The Fisherman, however, wants to be a good person.  He tries to live wild and free with his little Mermaid…but his deeds condemn him after he is reunited with his Soul.  And the Soul causes him deep, devastating sorrow. For, “when the young fisherman knew that he could no longer get rid of his Soul, and that it was an evil Soul and would abide with him always, he fell upon the ground weeping bitterly.”[1] 

The Fisherman was not wild, but bound by his deeds…as all “good” non-Christians are.  This should cause us to have great compassion for them! For deeds are like filthy rags in God’s eyes (Isa. 64:6).  It is all about having faith in Jesus.

And then there is the Priest, who personifies the uptight, Pharisee-like Christians.  He is not wild and free in the least! He, too, is bound by his deeds, just as much as the Fisherman is.  His plight might just be sadder than the Fisherman’s; after all, freedom is available to him, but he does not grasp it.

Until the end.  Until he is overwhelmed with the love of God, and then he finally becomes a “godly mermaid,” wildly inviting all to partake in the Gospel.

Can We Save the Mermaid?

Which leads us to ask: can we salvage the lovely and beautiful wildness of the little Mermaid?  Can we be like her, showing non-Christians that life IS fuller and lovelier with Christ than without Him?

The answer has always been yes up to this point.  But in this story, we get a truer depiction: Yes, if we allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with the love of God.

I’ll admit, it seems impossible.  I am almost always the Priest. Maybe I don’t judge people as vociferously as he does, but I certainly don’t go out of my way to share the Wild and Lavish Love of Christ.  I keep to myself, letting people go their own way. I’m a very private person, and I hate it when others shove stuff down my throat…It genuinely makes me cringe to think of being a hypocrite in this manner.

What’s more, I look at my own life, and how I live.  I certainly don’t live wildly free in Jesus. I live…afraid, frustrated,angry, and bored.  Often, I have a grumbling spirit. I am so far from being a “godly mermaid.”

But if the Priest can change, then there’s hope for me.  If I were to compare myself, I’d say I was on average more loving than the Priest…and so just think how even MORE loving I could be if I allowed myself to be fully overwhelmed by the love of Jesus!  

Overwhelmed by the love of Christ.  It’s the only way to live wild and free in Christ.  It’s the only way to truly save the mermaid…



[1] The Fisherman and His Soul by Oscar Wilde in Heidi Anne Heiner’s Mermaid and Other Water Spirit Tales from Around the World (Nashville, TN: SurLaLune Press, 2011), 386.  

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