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John Eldredge, author of Wild At Heart and Fathered By God among others, writes of fishing with his dad as a boy. Spending hours together on a Saturday morning trying to catch fish. "But" he writes, "the fish were never the issue. What I longed for was his presence, his attention and his delight in me." Before he finished elementary school however, his father succumbed to alcoholism and mostly disappeared from his life. It left a void in his life. He needed more. He needed to be shown the way. The father's work was unfinished.

In his mid-twenties he took up fly fishing, something his father never did with him. And his futility in fly-fishing was symbolic of the void his father left. Then he writes of a fly fishing one day, seeing trout all around but unable to catch even one. The guy just up the river was having no trouble. Every time he looked up the guy had his rod bent, laughing and whooping as brought yet another giant rainbow into his net. Finally Eldredge stopped fishing and just watched the guy to try to learn what he was doing. The man saw him and said, "C'mon down."

Turned out he was a fly-fishing guide by profession. In 10 minutes the guide fixed his leader, put the right kind of flies on the line, gave him a few instructions and then stepped out of the water to watch him, like a father who's taught his son to hit a baseball steps back to watch, let the boy take a few swings all by himself. Shortly he hooked a trout and landed it. The guide came back into the water and showed John how to release it. "Have fun" the guide said as he left. Eldredge writes "As I drove home I knew the gift had been from God, that he had fathered me through this man."

I love that story because it brings home the good news that God steps in where our imperfect dads may have let us down and finishes the job. And it's not to say that earthly fathers always fail us, but rather that the only one who can truly father us is God himself.

Honor your father. Doesn't matter who your father is, at a minimum you can honor him and thank God for him that he gave you life. And whatever He has done that has reflected to you something that is true of God, give thanks for that. And know that your heavenly Father wants to fill in the gaps. God the Father wants to complete the job. None of our earthly fathers did it perfectly, we all need God to finish his work in us. He does it through his body, the church, through his Word, through relationship with Him.

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