Missing the Boat at SeaWorld

What are we to make of the tragedy at a local theme park this week?

A seasoned trainer of killer whales got dragged under water by her ponytale by a male Orca known for a history of living up to its name.

The debate in the news remains alarmingly this-worldly in terms of animal rights, conservation, ad nauseum.

As always, the Scripture speaks profoundly on an altogether different level.

In response to Job’s complaints in the face of unspeakable suffering far exceeding that of the family of Dawn Brancheau who dared tether Tilikum to her less-than-containable leash, the God of the universe said this:

“Can you draw out Leviathan with a fishhook
or press down his tongue with a cord?
2 Can you put a rope in his nose
or pierce his jaw with a hook?
3 Will he make many pleas to you?
Will he speak to you soft words?
4 Will he make a covenant with you
to take him for your servant forever?
5 Will you play with him as with a bird,
or will you put him on a leash for your girls?
6 Will traders bargain over him?
Will they divide him up among the merchants?
7 Can you fill his skin with harpoons
or his head with fishing spears?
8 Lay your hands on him;
remember the battle—you will not do it again!
9  Behold, the hope of a man is false;
he is laid low even at the sight of him.
10 No one is so fierce that he dares to stir him up.
Who then is he who can stand before me?
11 Who has first given to me, that I should repay him?
Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.

Leviathan is the English translator’s best guess for a difficult-to-translate Hebrew word often rendered as a large sea animal. Orcas fit the bill. They are among the hugest of the dolphin species weighing up to six tons and measuring up to the length of a school bus. Males are particularly large and aggressive. Tilikum serves the SeaWorld community for his stud services and large-splash-making capabilities  – a crowd favorite indeed.

Until this week when he took a 40 year old handler so very easily to her watery grave.

If you seek to see the world through heavenly-minded eyes, the lesson seems plain. Who dares to trifle with a killer whale? No one is so fierce that he dares to stir him up. Ms. Brancheau, I am certain, dared not in the slightest to stir up the mighty beast floating in the pool before her. Even so, her proximity to creation’s majesty cost her nothing less than her very life. Word to the wise.

Word to the wiser still. Who then is he/she who can stand before God? Let the question sink in. Who then is he/she who can stand before God? None. I say it again, none. If dear Dawn (and my heart goes out to her grieving family and friends) could not stand poolside by Leviathan and escape with her life, who among us can pretend to put God, who owns the whole of heaven, including Orcas, great white sharks, lumbering hippos, and the rest of His wondrous and fearsome creation, in the dock and claim some legitimate argument with His sovereign administrations in their life for which we might better respond, He gives and takes away; blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21).

May we not miss the boat along with the masses debating the pros and cons of killer whales consigned to captivity as if the only things we should consider lie along an animal rights plane and no other. Far more can and should result from this tragedy than that. Let nature and its grandeur speak to us internally rebuking our sinful pride. Let it speak to us vertically recalibrating our hearing and seeing such that we hear and see Him and thus, along with Job, despise ourselves and repent in dust and ashes (Job 42:5-6).

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