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“Fishing with four girls.  This is going to be difficult.”

My husband’s idea of vacation includes only three main ingredients: eat, sleep, and fish.  Coming from a family who baits before breakfast and trolls well past twilight, the sight-seeing, sunbathing, sand-happy shopper in me had to learn how to deal with this deep sea dilemma.

Seventeen years ago I really could have used a crash course on how to smile after seven hours spent sitting with a sinker.  Nevertheless, I can honestly say I have adapted.  I actually enjoy fishing – in moderation – and I no longer have any outlandish vacation expectations that disallow the glorious sport I refer to a gigglybobbin’.

We spent the past week at the beach.  More specifically, on the pier, the dock, and the bridge casting, reeling, and, yes, catching fish.  With three little girls and a wife who won’t wound worms without a Hazmat suit, the mechanic clearly had his work cut out for him.

I just have to stop right there and acknowledge his patience.  Literally, the moment one line was cast, the next was reeled back in.  “Bait my hook, Daddy.”  “He stole my shrimp, Daddy.”  “I had a bite, Daddy.  I lost my bait again.”

Between blocking blondie (Addie, 6) from hook havoc and reloading lures, I reckon my aforetime anxious angler really wondered why he didn’t breed boys.

But, no.  He just kept baiting bare hooks for his baby dolls.

Bravo to these pixie’s papa.  I’m impressed.

All the girls caught fish…lots of fish.  When Daddy finally got his turn on the pier, he pulled one up after another…after another.  The Blues were biting for the better part of six hours that night.  Ironically, our family were the only ones catching them.

I know that the risk of this beginning to sound like a full-fledged fish story is quite high…but I assure you that it is true.  The guy next to us said he’d been fishing all day and hadn’t caught much of anything.  As soon as my husband tied one of his special gigglybobbin’ lures onto that guy’s line, he immediately began pulling Blues up one after another right along with us.  The guy next to him went down to the bait shop and bought one.  No sooner did he drop his line before he, too, pulled up a Blue.

It continued that way until the pier closed for the night.  We caught so many fish that we stopped counting.  The guy next to us caught so many he couldn’t fit them all into his cooler.  I’ve never seen so many fish caught in such a short amount of time.  It was amazing.

I thought about how patient my husband had been with the girls when I know he really wanted to focus on his own fishing fun.  I thought about how he’d described his lucky lure as one that really wasn’t special – one you can buy at any bait ship for barely three bucks.  I thought about how fortunate we’d been to find so many fish and how proud I was to be the wife of a fisherman who was willing to friend a man he did not know and share his good fortune.  I thought about how bold that man was to share his story about how he had escaped the depths of this world’s despair and became a Christian some years ago.  And then I thought about Jesus and his fishermen.

I thought about how he’d told them to let down their nets after they’d fished all day.  I thought about how they’d listened despite their doubts and how he’d blessed them so enormously for their obedience and trust.  I thought about how they caught so many fish that their nets were breaking; so many fish that their boats began to sink!

And then I remembered…that is how God blesses men who are willing to obey him when his commands seem ridiculous.  That is how God blesses men who trust him.  That’s how God blesses men who sacrifice their own agenda for His; who patiently pursue preferring others.  I thought about how when he does it – and he will – those men do not expect or horde it.  Instead, they fall down in humility and gratitude over his goodness and forgo fishing  in exchange for following him fully…just like a few other famous fishermen who went before them.

But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” For he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” 11 And when they had brought their boats to land, they left everything and followed him. ~Luke 5:8-11

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Playing catch.  Planting a garden.  Riding a bike.  Working hard.  How to surprise Mommy.  Prayer.  Picking blackberries.  Courage.  Sled-riding.  Getting dirty.  The importance of church attendance.  Fishing.  Homework.  How to fight the heebeegeebees.  Computer skills.  Dog walking.  Giving.

These are just a few of the many things my daddy taught me.  Daddy got sick when I was 11 and I spent the rest of my life wishing he hadn’t.  Still, I can’t imagine what my life would have been like if he hadn’t been there at all.  I wonder how the world can pretend fathers are simply an optional appendage to an otherwise fully fulfilled childhood.  

Fatherhood was God’s first idea when he created the first man.  He was the father!  God himself has always been a father, first to his One and Only Son; second to humanity.  He’s been living and working in the hearts and lives of his children for all eternity past.  He’ll continue to do so for all eternity future.  He gave us his best that we might be our best.  That is the role of a every good father.

Married men and women, think of your children before you think of yourself.  Your children need a father who lives in their home.  Single men and women, think of your future children before you think of yourself.  Your children will need a father who loves and is married to their mother.  

If your living situation is not ideal presently, look to God, your first father.  Ask him how you might seek imitate his model for family and abstain from anything that will detract from his plan.  Remember, we serve a redeemer who has unlimited resources and is capable of redeeming all circumstances for the good when we obey.  

Let us all consider Our Father God and never underestimate the impact of a selfless father who willingly lays down his life for his children from beginning to end.  That is, after all, how the world was saved.  Let us also consider Jesus’ mother, Mary, who willingly laid down her life for both her God and her child before he was even born as well as on the day of his death.

Men and women, let us learn wisdom from Our Heavenly Father and go and do likewise.

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows
    is God in his holy habitation. ~Psalm 68:5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu6TJeasyWE

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