Yesterday morning, a close friend of mine and I went fly fishing in the Smoky Mountains. We traveled up a gravel road to some fishing spots we frequented often over the last few years. As we rounded a curve slowly, we looked over to the left at the stream.
Standing on a large, mossy rock, fully outfitted with waders, vest and fly rod, was a man facing upstream. Beside him stood a very young girl with waders and vest and with her hair pulled back under a fishing cap. As the waters murmured and splashed around them, he pointed and leaned down as he spoke to her. A father and daughter.
I stopped the car at the next bend, and we looked downstream at them.
He whipped the fly line into the run and gathered up the slack. Moments later, he sent the fly back upstream and handed the rod to his daughter. With his hand on her back, he watched her as she focused on the line. Then, with a sweet grace that comes with learning anything new, she flicked the rod tip back and forward again, rolling the line forward into the water. Her father nodded and spoke to her.
Throughout the scene, I felt a growing lump in my throat. All sorts of emotions welled up. In my mind, I saw myself there with children I could be a dad for. Teaching, sharing, loving.
But then another, clearer image emerged. It was not one of fishing, but of teaching them of God, of His love for them, of grace and redemption and faith. I wanted to stand beside them, point into His deep waters, show them how to navigate the currents, and then watch them take those first steps of faith themselves.
Through my growing tears, the father and daughter on the rock blurred. I whispered, “Oh, I want that.”
My friend, also single, sniffed and said, “Me too, bro…Me too.”
We faced the road again and crept away slowly, knowing that no matter what we caught on the stream that day, something bigger had caught us a long time ago.