I have an exciting fish story for you!
Still, you should know – this fish, it’s not very big. It’s not six feet, or three feet, or even one foot long. In fact, this fish is only a few inches long. It’s called the o’opu fish.
Most species of the o’opu fish are found only in the Hawaiian Islands, and they have a most interesting life cycle.
They are born high up in the freshwater pools at the tops of mountain peaks. As soon as they hatch, they fall over the edge of nearby waterfalls, make their way downstream, and swim until they reach the ocean. There they then spend the first few months of their life, maturing near the coast.
Still, the o’opu are resilient. Like salmon, they fight the downstream currents as they climb up the mountain streams. Unlike salmon, though, they have an ace up their sleeve for when they reach the base of the waterfall. The o’opu have a fused fin on their underbelly (as you can see on the fish to the right), and this fin functions as a suction cup. They attach this “cup” to the rock face and use their strong tail to push themselves up vertically, climbing waterfalls that are as high as 1000 feet!
The Disney part of my brain imagines that somewhere during that 1000 foot ascent, the o’opu might look down from where they’ve come, and then up at how much longer they have left, and think “Oh, crap.” (A friend of mine thought that instead they might think “Uh, oh. Poo.” Ha, ha, get it? O’opu? Ba-dum TSS!) But the o’opu press forward, because only when they conquer that waterfall can they reach the top and give life.
Climbing Our Waterfalls Before Giving Life
The O’opu fish sets a wonderful pattern for our own lives. We have been given a commission to invite others to “come unto Christ.” The Lord says that “there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations… who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it — Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them” (Doctrine and Covenants 123:12-13). In other words, we have been given the commission to help others and give life.
But there is a problem. Each of us has waterfalls that we must overcome in our own lives before we can be effective servants. These waterfalls may come in the form of striving to become clean and worthy. They may come in the form of learning about the gospel ourselves so that we can better share it. They may even come in the form of overcoming shyness and gaining the courage to share our testimonies.
No matter what our waterfalls are, one thing is common between them all – we must all climb to the very top of our individual waterfalls in order to give life.
That vision has helped me to strive to be better. Knowing that the Lord could use me as an instrument, but can only use me to the fullest as I prepare myself, gives me the motivation to climb my waterfalls so that I can help, when the Lord needs me to, give life.
Like the O’opu fish, I’ve looked down at where I’ve come, and then up to how much longer I have left to go, and have thought, “Uh, oh… Poo” (I couldn’t resist). But I gather my bearings, remember why I started climbing in the first place, and continue onward.
“Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward and not backward. Courage, brethren, and on, on to the victory!” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:22)