Proverbs 4:1 (MSG)
Listen, friends, to some fatherly advice; sit up and take notice so you'll know how to live.
My Dad and I used to go fishing every year during the spring and summer months in his twelve foot John Boat. He taught me a lot about life from the seats of that boat.
Our routine, on the chosen "fishing morning", was to arise promptly at 5:00 am. We would always load the truck and the boat with all of the necessary fishing gear the night before. It was his habit to fix us an egg sandwich for each of us to take in the truck and eat on the way. The sandwich consisted of one hard fried egg pressed between two pieces of warm toast. (Those were the best sandwiches I have ever eaten, by the way!)
When it was time to leave, the two of us would pick up the boat and shove it into the back of his old black Ford pick~up truck, tie a red bandana on the end, and head on down the road. We usually went to a local lake known for the wonderful Crappie that swam throughout the tree snarled waters. It took about an hour to get there. On the way, we would talk a little, but I don't remember any "earth shaddering" conversations. I only remember feeling extremely content to be with him. It was a fun ride filled with anticipation for what we might catch and absolutely no thought about the cares we left behind. It was our day....usually just the two of us, although a few times we allowed my Mom or a friend to tag along.
When we arrived at the ramp to unload the boat, my Dad and I would repeat in reverse the off loading of the boat and gently set it into the water. I would hold onto the boat rope while he put the truck in a spot up from the water. Upon his return, we would climb in our sea worthy vessel and set off for parts unknown. We always wore our life jackets when we were traveling to our fishing hideaways. These treasure spots always had lots of underbrush and tree stumps that we tied up to. Once the boat was secure, my Dad would allow me to take off the jacket, but it had to be within easy reach, because the lake we were on was notorious for sudden white capping and large waves whenever there was a pop up thunderstorm. We would then proceed to bait our hooks, put on the bobber, and drop the line down into the water. That was it! That was what we came for....now we just had to wait...and watch.
I sat in a trance longing for the bobber to take a dive so I could yank the line and reel in my catch. As we sat there, I was lulled by the gentle rocking motion and the soft sound of the water lapping against the boat. Soon, the sun came up over the hill and peeked through the trees, creating a soothing warmth on our skin. We sometimes waited a very long time. There were times when I was sure I had something, and I would jerk my line out of the water and the empty hook would go flying and nearly smack my Dad in the face. (Remember the small size of our boat.) He never said a word about that, just ducked his head and with his hand would grab my empty line and send it back to me for re-baiting of the hook. If we sat there too long, we would make a united decision to abandon the spot for a different location.
Finally, when I really did have something on the end of the hook, I would be thrilled. In the excitement to land my mammoth fish, I would frequently forget the one and only rule that my Dad gave me about fishing on his boat.....and that was DON'T EVER STAND UP! I would get so excited that I would stand up and start reeling in my catch. Have you ever tried to stand up in a 12 foot John Boat? Not a good idea. It definitely gives a whole new meaning to "don't rock the boat!" Good news though, I never tipped the boat over...close on several occassions..... but never did. I caught some great fish with my Dad, and I have an abundance of cherished memories tucked away in my heart.
Here's a few things that I learned from my Daddy on those fishing trips:
Lesson #1. It pays to get up early.
Lesson #2. Always plan ahead and be prepared with the necessary items to accomplish your mission.
Lesson#3. Eat breakfast.
Lesson #4. Lifting a heavy load together makes the weight a lot lighter.
Lesson #5. Clearly define your boundaries, so that people will not be confused and run into/over you.
Lesson #6. Silence between two people who love each other can be just as enjoyable as a good conversation.
Lesson #7. It's good to relax and get away to a quiet place occasionally, especially with someone you love.
Lesson #8. Always have a life saving device available when you are going through rough or uncharted territory.
Lesson #9. Always keep your eye on the prize.
Lesson #10. Waiting can be fun.
Lesson #11. Sometimes you have to move to obtain your goals.
Lesson #12. Daddys should be patient with their children, like my Dad was with me.
Lesson #13. Sunday mornings were for going to God's House. (We never went fishing on a Sunday.)
Lesson # 14. Don't stand up in a small boat!
Tonight, I am thanking God for the extraordinary father that He blessed me with! I am asking Him to bless my Dad for all of the years that he and my Mom sacrificed to care for five children. I am praying that the Lord will teach me how to parent in this relational way, so that my children will learn Godly life lessons from me that will serve to advance His kingdom.