We as a family were blessed to be able to get over to Panama City Beach at the start of summer for a bit of family time before the travel season in student ministry gets going for me. So I cherish these opportunities to have family time in summer and the boys were also incredibly excited. And of all the things we got to do and experience, who would have guessed that fishing from the shore would have been the favorite activity.
I’m very glad to pass on the Veleber fishing gene to my boys. Fishing (mainly saltwater) marked my years growing up and I reflect on that time primarily with my dad and brother with great fondness. And I still love to wet a line myself. Unfortunately between ministry and family activities, there is not much margin for any personal fishing, so most of it becomes taking the boys fishing to a lake when we can get some time free.
So here I found myself on the beach in PCB setting up the poles for a little shore fishing. My big boy was hopeful to reel in something huge, but was blanked all week. However the little boys were crushing it inside the shallows in front of the sandbar. Pinfish after pinfish and fingerling whiting after whiting occupied them for hours… and by default, me as well.
I actually lost track of how many shrimp I tore into little pieces to attach to that tiny hook. Bait after bait and fish after fish. Oh the joys of
fishing, I mean baiting. But for someone who loves fishing so much, I never knew how much joy could be had in just, well… not fishing. My hands stunk of shrimp and we caught and released more little fish than we could count. And it brought me great joy. Not the dream fishing vacation any of us guys would craft… but it was one that filled my heart.
Parenting changes things. I guess that is the understatement of the century. But for whatever “losses” there may be to personal preferences and hobbies, there are innumerable returns through your children.
I can only imagine how this earthly and most certainly flawed (by my own struggles and failures as a dad) analogy gives us as parents a glimpse into what it must be like for our perfect Heavenly Father. It’s the imagery and word I find myself using most when I talk to the Creator God of the Universe. I mean, how unbelievably stunning, as Ephesians reminds us that we are adopted into the family of God. And how the Psalmist captures God’s heart when he writes, “How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” (Psalm 139:17). That we are the apple of His eye and His prized possession. That we can be sons and daughters of God. How awesome and amazing is our Heavenly Father! One who never tires of putting on another piece of shrimp… because He delights in His children.
Oh how I desire to be more like my Father. Well, my earthly father is a great example and I would do well to be more like him, but most certainly, my Heavenly Father. As I reflect on this coming Father’s Day, I see my many blessings. The gift of my earthly father given to me. The relationship that I can have with my Heavenly Father, through Jesus. And that my Father has entrusted me these four boys to be a father to. A blessing I don’t deserve and a duty I am most certainly deficient in, but am resting in His grace.
And now as I sit here behind a computer… I’d most certainly trade it for some shrimp stained fingers, sand between my toes, a bit of sunburn and the joyous squeals ringing out… “Dad, I caught another one!”