With a hushed tone my grandfather whispered tales of the mythical “Leviathan of the deep” into the imaginations of all his grandchildren. From the description of Leviathan’s scales, fins, and massive jaws, we imagined a great and powerful beast that must be both respected and avoided with all our being. This beast, for whatever reason the Creator formed him, was our creaturely limit. The Leviathan set a circle around our youthful possibilities and that circle, now embedded in our young psyches, became the point beyond which we dared not go. The Leviathan was a creature with whom we could not negotiate. We couldn’t persuade, deceive, cajole, or even discuss our wishes with it. We couldn’t tame, defeat, or harm it. We could and should respect its creaturely existence as the mark of our absolute boundary.
As we grew older, the Leviathan proved to be a shape-changer. We learned in time that absolute limits come in all shapes, forms, and sizes. When God speaks to Job, God reminds him that there are limits in our lives that he, and we, should respect. Our childhood memory of the beast’s scales, fins, and jaws may fall away, but the truth of those limits remains as they take on new forms. God whispers a message of hope that transverses those imbedded and anchored limits from the deep waters of life where the Leviathan reigns. God speaks plainly and clearly to Job: “everything (including Leviathan) under heaven is mine.”
How have the imaginary creatures of your childhood come to reflect real life experiences that frighten you today? How do you hear God assure you today that there is no depth nor height that separates you from the love of God? (Job 41:10-11, Rom 8:38-39)
I will acknowledge as many shapes of Leviathan as I can before you, O Lord, for I know that you alone can domesticate them. You alone can give me the courage to live in the Leviathan’s world courageously. Amen.