Killer whales make me cry.
Killer whales make me cry, not because they splash water all over me when they jump up or smack their tails. In one hundred and three-degree Texas heat, I welcomed the splashing.
Nor do I cry out of fear of the killer whale though, as their name suggests, they can be deadly.
I have seen the Shamu show at Sea World multiple times, and each time I see these creatures up close, I am moved to tears and applause. Each time, I am amazed that I am privileged to witness something so beautiful, powerful, and playful. Each time I wonder, “What was in the mind of God when he decided to make these?”
Recently I read again through the book of Job. After thirty-seven chapters about death, grief, sorrow, and open festering wounds scraped with pottery shards for relief, I came to the section in which God responds to Job’s questions. Demonstrating His power, might, and goodness, the Lord recounts the multitude of wonders He created. In The Message part of this account reads:
Can you find your way to where lightning is launched,
or to the place from which the wind blows?
Who do you suppose carves canyons
for the downpours of rain, and charts
the route of thunderstorms
That bring water to unvisited fields,
deserts no one ever lays eyes on,
Drenching the useless wastelands
so they’re carpeted with wildflowers and grass?
And who do you think is the father of rain and dew,
the mother of ice and frost?
You don’t for a minute imagine
these marvels of weather just happen, do you? (Job 38:24-30)
As I was reading these words, I started seeing a great artist at work, playing creation into existence. I imagined God launching lightning and carving canyons. I thought, “This sounds like the story of creation as a poem.” Then I read Eugene Peterson’s comment on this passage. He said, “. . . this is a poetic account of the Creation of the world in contrast to Genesis 1, which is a narrative account.”
It’s a good day when I find myself thinking like Eugene Peterson—makes me feel like I’ve got some pretty sound theological chops.
A few chapters later, the Lord describes the mighty leviathan. No one knows for sure what creature is being described, but I like to think that Leviathan was Shamu’s name before it was changed when he came to the States. The Lord asked Job:
Or can you pull in the sea beast, Leviathan, with a fly rod and stuff him in your creel?
Can you lasso him with a rope,
or snag him with an anchor?
Will he beg you over and over for mercy,
or flatter you with flowery speech?
Will he apply for a job with you
to run errands and serve you the rest of your life?
Will you play with him as if he were a pet goldfish?
Will you make him the mascot of the neighborhood children?
Will you put him on display in the market
and have shoppers haggle over the price?
Could you shoot him full of arrows like a pin cushion,
or drive harpoons into his huge head?
If you so much as lay a hand on him,
you won’t live to tell the story.
What hope would you have with such a creature?
Why, one look at him would do you in!
If you can’t hold your own against his glowering visage,
how, then, do you expect to stand up to me?
Who could confront me and get by with it?
I’m in charge of all this—I run this universe! (Job 41:1-11)
I watch the playfulness of the mighty killer whale, and I am struck by the combination of both beauty and strength. I imagine God’s delight in creating him. When I see the leviathan leap and clap my hands for joy, shedding tears at his sheer beauty, I imagine my heavenly Father’s pleasure. I can almost hear Him asking, “Did you like that? I made him for you. I was happy to do it.”
The One who runs the universe, the One who sang the stars into existence, gave me a glimpse of both the beauty and power of His creation. At present, that creation is in rebellion and dangerous. But watching Shamu was a fun reminder that one day, the lion will lie down with the lamb and all God’s creatures will play together.
And the mighty leviathan will be my friend.
And the sisterhood: