Last year our family went to Sea World. We had been there before, but the girls just love it, so we decided to go again. What the trainers can get those animals to do is nothing short of amazing. Dolphins vaulting out of the water, flipping in midair, or propelling across the surface of the pool using nothing but their powerful tail fins is an incredible thing to behold.
As usual, on our visit to Sea World, the big event of the day is the Shamu show. This happens in Shamu Stadium, and it is the crown jewel of the Sea World experience. The show begins with images of the ocean displayed on giant screens around the top of the stadium. The entire seating area fans out in a way that makes it feel like the ocean on the screens is an extension of the big pool in the center of the stadium. It all feels so large. As the music swells, you hear a collective gasp as the most enormous killer whales come tearing into the water before your eyes and leap up out of the pool, their striking black and white coloring on display. People cheer and clap. Water forcefully sprays up over the pool. Lights swirl all over the stadium. More whales join the show, leaping up and crashing down, drenching the brave souls who chose to sit in the “splash zone.” It is absolutely thrilling.
As I sat there this time, taking it all in, I began to really look around the stadium. I looked at the pool where the whales were performing. I looked at the holding tanks they had been waiting in just before they got their cue to swim into the main pool. I looked at the screens, projecting images of water, ocean, sky, and space. I got an uneasy feeling in my stomach. The experience we were having was an illusion. This was no ocean. There was no space, no sky. This was a large tub. Backstage were small holding tanks for these massive killer whales. They were captives. The greatest, fearless killers in the ocean were spending their lives in tubs, performing for snacks distributed by their handlers.
As I sat there, feeling my spirit sink, the thought came to me: this is exactly like sin. It looks so beautiful. It looks like freedom. It can make your heart swell. It can make a crowd jump to its feet with its music and lights. It can look like an ocean of freedom, yet when you stop and really look at what is in front of your eyes, it is something very different. When the lights go out, when the water stops spraying, when the images on the screens fade to black, you are just like those whales, stripped of your strength and dignity. There is no freedom. You are a captive.
Jesus came to set us free. He did not come to condemn us for being trapped. He came to rescue us from captivity. He came to offer us the ocean. That is why we turn our eyes away from so many things that our world delights in and tries to force upon us. Because we can see beyond the light show to the holding tank in the back. And we choose freedom.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
*My blogs are written with the assumption that they are being read primarily by Christians. If you want to know more about what it means to be a Christian or about the gospel of Jesus Christ, click the link here:The Gospel