Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are getting ready to welcome back the salmon. Every single one of them was “born” in our hatcheries anywhere from one to five years ago. The salmon will return to the exact same place where they began their lives, fixed on the sole intention of spawning and dying, their lives complete, their purposes fulfilled.
Their life cycle is interesting. It requires them to be hatched, to wait in place until they are developed enough to leave, to swim down the freshwater streams to the ocean, to travel thousands of miles along the ocean coasts, feeding and maturing, and then to return home to spawn and almost immediately die. Their spawn will begin the same cycle all over again.
I go to see them every year at our local hatchery in Issaquah. It fascinates me to watch them swim up the stream, trying to climb the dam that will force them into the right place to spawn. With single-minded determination, they will fling their bodies over any obstacle, bruise themselves beyond recognition, and eventually die to achieve their purpose. Despite their tiny brains, I sometimes reflect that they are in at least one way smarter than me.
Every one of us has to return to the place we started to fulfill the purpose of our lives. God has made us to return to him. As Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they rest in you.” God has placed a deep dream in each one of us, and that deep dream lays out the ideal course for our lives. Like the salmon, our lives will follow a course of several phases. Unlike them, God will have called us to billions of different missions. But in the end, the most important thing will be that we achieved our mission, finished our course, and returned to God at our appointed time.
Salmon know their mission by instinct. Ours requires some very deep reflection and the personal knowledge of God. As salmon pursue their mission with relentless determination, we should set our minds on knowing our purpose and fulfilling it. And most importantly, to ensure that we make our way to the ultimate rendezvous with the God who gave us life.