I just read for the first time Ernest Hemingway’s short book The Old Man and the Sea written back in 1952. It tells the story of an old, weathered, poor Cuban fisherman named Santiago who had gone 84 days without catching a thing.
On the 85th day, determined to catch a prize, Santiago goes out farther than ever, and he hooks a massive marlin that takes his little skiff for a ride, pulling him farther and farther out to sea. He spent the next two nights and three days battling the mammoth marlin with his bare hands. He wear him down he pulled the fishing line over his bare back, causing much pain. Finally, the determined fisherman had him at the edge of his boat. Santiago harpooned him and strung all 18 feet of him to the side of his little sailboat. This great catch would mean food and supplies for him for an entire winter!
He turned and began the long trip back for Havana. One thing he never considered was the sharks. The marlin’s blood was dripping in the deep ocean water. Like scavengers one by one the sharks began to attack the man’s prize catch. He did his best to beat them away, but with each attack more blood was spilt which meant more sharks. When he finally pulled into blooded, worn out, exhausted, starving, on the verge of death, his catch was devoured. There was nothing left but a massive skeleton.
Old Santiago lost everything he had worked for. Here’s where the old fisherman failed. He went fishing alone. He tried to do it all by himself. Had he another person the great marlin would have never pulled him out so far. Working together they would have pulled in the great fish quicker. Together they could have beaten off the sharks. Though he was determined, all his effort went for nothing because he was fishing alone.
Marriage is designed by God to be a partnership, husband and wife working as a team. Here’s what can happen. An offended, frustrated spouse can draw back, and decide, “I’m going to do this family thing by myself. I can’t work with this.”
They stop talking, planning, coordinating with one another. The frustrated spouse will do an end around and coordinate directly with the kids. The other spouse comes home and discovers decisions made without their input or knowledge. The division grows leaving the kids caught in the middle.
Raising a healthy family is like pulling in a great marlin. It will take a team in unity, pulling together, planning together, talking together. What a tragedy it would be to come to the end of our parenting years and find our prize, a healthy family taken away, leaving us exhausted and defeated.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 – Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
Single parents I’m not here to discourage you. God can help you. He can be that partner you need when you feel like giving up. This is really directed to husbands and wives living under the same roof. The adversary, the devil wants to divide you, because he knows a house divided can not stand.
You’re a team. Work together. One way you can do that is to get together once a week over coffee to plan out your week, synchronize your calendars, and figure out your game plan. Do this once a week. Sit down. Look at each other in the eye. Make a game plan for the family. Then communicate that game plan together to the kids. That says to the kids, “Dad and mom are working together!”