A Father’s Day story

By Bill Shepard

There is a story in the Bible that gets my attention every year at this time.

It is the story of a man and his two sons. They were in the fishing business together. Mark, the gospel writer, tells the story in the opening chapter of the book that bears his name, Mark, Chapter 1.

In this story we see Jesus walking the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus sees two men casting their net and he calls to them, “Come, follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” The two brothers, Simon and Andrew, dropped their net and immediately followed Jesus.

Nothing more is said about the three as they continued walking. They had not gone but a short distance when Jesus saw three other fishermen mending their net. The trio was made up of the father Zebedee, and his two sons, James and John.

Again Jesus called and without hesitation the two men left their father in the boat and followed Jesus. This is an amazing story! As to the father, Zebedee, the story ends here!

There are so many questions one could ask as to what happened to this father as he watched his sons walk away and leave him alone in the boat. So much is written about the two sons as they followed Jesus. They are known as the Sons of Thunder and in the end, died as martyrs.

The Bible has little more to say about Zebedee. He is never seen again with the boys as they walked away.

James and John went on to do great things but Zebedee missed out on seeing or being a part of them.

Zebedee’s story could be that of too many fathers. So wrapped up in the business of getting ahead in the world that they miss out on the most important business of their life, that of being a good father! Don’t do it, Dad! The things that might have been will return to haunt you in your old age! There is no more valuable time than that you spend with your children in their tender years. You only have that opportunity once! Don’t miss it!

Now, a personal note! I was a busy father, too busy! Like so many I have known, I was trying hard to be all that I thought I should be! I wanted to reach the top of my field. I was giving it all that I had. Some have expressed it as “burning the candle at both ends!”

I was serving as a full-time pastoral minister, a full-time classroom teacher and a student taking correspondence classes. Yes, I was trying hard to reach the top! I was all wrapped up in Me, Myself and I! I was robbing myself of so much that could never be replaced!

One morning while on our way to the school where I was teaching, I overheard a conversation between my two boys. It seemed that the boys who lived next door had visited the day before, and shared with my boys that they had been on a fishing trip with their dad. They must have talked about the good time they experienced. My youngest son added, “I sure wish our dad would take us fishing sometime.”

The words were spoken almost in a whisper, but I heard and they cut like a knife!

The words that followed made the wound even deeper. They were spoken in an even softer tone, but I heard them loud and clear: “Don’t ask Dad to take us fishing; he is too busy and doesn’t have time!”

“Too busy, doesn’t have time” – words I shall never forget. They found their target! All that day they kept playing through my mind! By the time my day’s work had ended, I knew what I had to do.

I drove straight to town and purchased a cane fishing pole for each member of my family. When I arrived home I announced we were going fishing! We became a fishing family and in the weeks, months, even years ahead, we could be seen almost every Saturday near a creek or lake fishing!

The memories made at those times would more than fill a page. They have been retold over and over, and grow more precious with the passing years. I am so glad that I saw myself as a “father too busy” when I think of all the joys I would have missed.

A poem given to me many years ago and one that has been so meaningful to me might be worth sharing with my readers. Here it is:

I took a piece of plastic clay and gently molded it one day,
It came again when time had passed; the piece of clay was hard at last.
The clay my early imprints bore, and I could change them nevermore!
I took a piece of living clay and gently formed it day by day.
It came again when years had gone, it was a man I looked upon.
He my early imprints bore, and I could change them nevermore!

Author: Rachel Howell

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