Saturday, June 14, 2014
The Circus: Taming the Wild Beast
When I snapped this picture of the man leaning in and kissing the wide-open, sharp-toothed mouth of this Bengal tiger, I marveled -- not only at his fearlessness and, I'm sure, keen control of these wild animals through constant training, but I also marveled at what an incredible chance he was taking placing his very vulnerable face into the face of such obvious possible danger.
Of course, I know that's what the act with the big cats is all about -- fear versus fearlessness, intense training producing obedience in behavior -- all combining for an edge-of-your-seat exciting show. And, I have to hand it to him, the trainer did an excellent job and it seemed to go off without a hitch -- or a claw or a bite -- thank goodness!
But -- when tempting fate as this behavior illustrates, there is no guarantee that you'll come out in one piece. I'm sure this trainer believes he can keep these big cats under control. He's probably been doing this for years and I'm sure when he sticks his face practically into the mouth of this tiger, he doesn't anticipate losing half of his face. But -- it could happen -- and has happened.
One of the most famous tragic trainer injuries was in 2003 when Roy of Siegfried & Roy was bitten in the neck by a seven-year old White Tiger and nearly died. More recently, a young trainer in a zoo in Australia was bitten in the neck by a tiger he had raised from birth. No matter how well-trained these animals may appear, they are wild animals with very large, sharp teeth.
You say, well, you don't have to convince me! There is no way on God's green earth that you'll ever find me in a cage with a wild cat. Maybe not, but there are times you've been face to face with a man-eating lion and you didn't even know it. Peter writes, "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" 5:8. Satan and his minions are prowling around like big wild cats and they have very large, sharp teeth. They'd like nothing better than to take a chunk out of you and me -- to dilute our testimony for the Lord or to someway keep us from bringing glory to our Father.
There have probably been times in your life (perhaps even right now) when you've been in the position of the trainer in the picture above. You think you have control of the situation and you kiss the dangerous face of the lion or tiger (a picture of playing with sin). If, as this trainer, you survived without a scratch, it is only by the grace of your gracious Father who protected you from being devoured by the wicked one. We should never tempt God and we should never play with sin thinking we can control it.
Peter further goes on to say that we are to "Resist him (the devil), standing firm in the faith..." 5:9.
God speaks through Peter in chapter 3 with words to live by: "Whoever would love life and see good days ...He must turn from evil and do good; he must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer" 3:10-12.