|photo credit: wallpink.com|
The back windows of our home overlook a small flower garden and the woods which border a small stream. One wall of the house borders on the garden and is thickly covered with English ivy. Most years this ivy has been the nesting place for house finches. The nests in the vines are safe from foxes and raccoons and cats that are about.
One day there was a great commotion in the ivy. Desperate cries of distress came as 8 or 10 finches from the surrounding woods came to join in this cry of alarm. I soon saw the source of the commotion. A snake had slid partway down out of the ivy and hung in front of the window just long enough for me to pull it out. The middle part of the snake’s body had two bulges—clear evidence convicting it of taking two fledglings from the nest. Not in the 50 years we had lived in our home had we seen anything like that. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience—or so we thought.
A few days later there was another commotion, this time in the vines covering our dog run. We heard the same cries of alarm, the gathering of the neighborhood finches. We knew what the predator was. A grandson climbed onto the run and pulled out another snake that was still holding on tightly to the mother bird it had caught in the nest and killed.
I said to myself, “What is going on? Is the Garden of Eden being invaded again?”
There came into my mind the warnings spoken by the prophets. We will not always be safe from the adversary’s influence, even within our own homes. We need to protect our nestlings.
We live in a very dangerous world that threatens those things that are most spiritual. The family, the fundamental organization in time and eternity, is under attack from forces seen and unseen. The adversary is about. His objective is to cause injury. If he can weaken and destroy the family, he will have succeeded.
As an avid bird watcher and lover of snakes, I found this story fascinating. I loved the vivid imagery of the neighborhood finches sounding the alarm and all coming together to assist and warn others. I couldn't help but wonder--What if this was our reaction to the spiritual dangers of our society now?
Lucifer, like the serpents, has started entering our homes---through the media we watch or view on the computer or the television, the music we listen to, the ideas perpetuated on facebook or twitter, the mindless business of texting, tweeting, posting, liking, gaming, etc....
What if every time a young woman showed up to church dressed immodestly, or a young man viewed pornography in his home, or an immoral idea or value was taught at school, the neighborhood men and women all gathered together and sounded the alarm??
What if instead of feeling isolated and alone in our problems, the entire ward flocked together for support? Now, I am not suggesting that we need to air all of our dirty laundry or struggles to the world, but how do you respond when someone you love confides in you something they are struggling with? Do you love them more, add them to your prayers, ponder on their situation and try to help?
The adversary tries to isolate us---to make us think we are the only ones having this problem, everyone else has a happy life and they are too busy to be burdened by our problems. then as we are feeling alone, desperate, and distracted, he picks off one of our little ones by introducing them to damaging spiritual ideas, thoughts, or behaviors either through their friends, media, teachers, or others...
How can we protect them when they are not with us most of the day? We simply cannot neglect the basics. In this talk, from BYU Women's Conference, the Primary General Presidency emphasized three points:
1. Family Prayer--They quoted President Kimball, saying, “In the past, having family prayer once a day may have been all right. But in the future it will not be enough if we are going to save our families.” And they discussed this idea, if we are too busy to have family prayer, what are we then teaching our children---that the office, or the school bell, or the world is more important than speaking to our Father in Heaven? Is that the message we want to send??
2. Family Scripture Study. I apparently didn't take great notes during this part, but I can tell you that it is so important just for the feelings in your home. Not every time we have scripture study is it a remarkable spiritual experience, but we have had some amazing doctrinal discussions that have come out of our reading the scriptures together. As we read, children will ask serious questions they have been pondering, and then the discussions begin.
As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.
If we are too busy for these things, then we are not doing all we can to protect our nestlings and it is possible they may become the prey of that serpent.
If you happen to notice someone else's fledgling is being stalked, sound the alarm, come to their aid, and let the parents know of your love and concern before the adversary claims another victim. But remember to check on your own nestlings first and help protect them through family prayer, family scripture study, and focussing on the temple and family history work.