You don’t need to read The Old Man and the Sea to know the pride a man feels in reeling in “The Big One.” It’s something ingrained in us all, young or old. It’s a universal theme, a God-ordained calling, passed down through ages of literature, tall tales, and family histories. The honorable struggle, the worthy opponent – the lesson in defeat.
But if you’re like me, the fishing analogy doesn’t spark your imagination for what God has called you to do. That’s why when I saw the story of Kevin Stevens, it surprised me how immediately and centrally I was drawn to it.
You see, Kevin caught a 7-foot shark off the coast of Texas. Impressive, but not a big deal, until you realize he did it in a 12-foot kayak… with his 9-year-old son.
I’m no adventure-seeker and I’ve yet to experience all that fatherhood has in store, but the image of a father sharing this experience with his son is remarkable. It’s fascinating for the same reason movies like Courageous have taken much of the country by surprise. It displays fully men working to improve their lot, their stake in His story through their families. Men demonstrating what it means to be a man. Men doing exactly what John Eldredge describes when he says “[men] long for adventures, and battles, and a Beauty—and why God made them just like that.”
As Kevin’s son (aptly named Hunter) videos the hour-long bout, you can clearly hear the boy ask, “Beauty, huh?” as “Daddy” is pulling the shark to the surface. The boy delivers the line as much seeking approval of his assessment of the adventure as being descriptive of it.
Scenes like these may not make me want to catch sharks, or ride bulls, or climb Everest. But they do make me want to be the man I’m called to be. It’s a call not reserved for the men of this world, but one men of faith need to hear. And follow.
The honorable struggle for most will be teaching the next generation. The worthy opponent will be a culture that tries to undo those teachings. And the lesson in defeat? Well, that’s where The Old Man has it wrong. We’ve already won. The real question is what will we do with our progeny until the Victor returns?
“As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”