A few months ago I went back to visit my parents for a week and my mom asked me to help her clean out her old seminary posters that she had saved. It was neat reading through them as I put them in the trash. There was one that was so good that I had to copy out in my spiritual journal and today I want to share it. It’s about spiritual crocodiles.
Before I share that, though, here’s the story from Elder Packer’s 1976 conference talk about Spiritual Crocodiles that my mom's poster was probably based on:
We stopped at a water hole to watch the animals come to drink. It was very dry that season and there was not much water, really just muddy spots. When the elephants stepped into the soft mud the water would seep into the depression and the animals would drink from the elephant tracks.
The antelope, particularly, were very nervous. They would approach the mud hole, only to turn and run away in great fright. I could see there were no lions about and asked the guide why they didn’t drink. His answer, and this is the lesson, was “Crocodiles.”
I knew he must be joking and asked him seriously, “What is the problem?” The answer again: “Crocodiles.”
“Nonsense,” I said. “There are no crocodiles out there. Anyone can see that.”
I thought he was having some fun at the expense of his foreign game expert, and finally I asked him to tell us the truth. Now I remind you that I was not uninformed. I had read many books. Besides, anyone would know that you can’t hide a crocodile in an elephant track.
He could tell I did not believe him and determined, I suppose, to teach me a lesson. We drove to another location where the car was on an embankment above the muddy hole where we could look down. “There,” he said. “See for yourself.”
I couldn’t see anything except the mud, a little water, and the nervous animals in the distance. Then all at once I saw it!—a large crocodile, settled in the mud, waiting for some unsuspecting animal to get thirsty enough to come for a drink.
Suddenly I became a believer! When he could see I was willing to listen, he continued with the lesson. “There are crocodiles all over the park,” he said, “not just in the rivers. We don’t have any water without a crocodile somewhere near it, and you’d better count on it.”
The guide was kinder to me than I deserved. My “know-it-all” challenge to his first statement, “crocodiles,” might have brought an invitation, “Well, go out and see for yourself!”
I could see for myself that there were no crocodiles. I was so sure of myself I think I might have walked out just to see what was there. Such an arrogant approach could have been fatal! But he was patient enough to teach me….
Those ahead of you in life have probed about the water holes a bit and raise a voice of warning about crocodiles. Not just the big, gray lizards that can bite you to pieces, but spiritual crocodiles, infinitely more dangerous, and more deceptive and less visible, even, than those well-camouflaged reptiles of Africa….
He then showed me a place where a tragedy had occurred. A young man from England was working in the hotel for the season. In spite of constant and repeated warnings, he went through the compound fence to check something across a shallow splash of water that didn’t cover his tennis shoes.
“He wasn’t two steps in,” the ranger said, “before a crocodile had him, and we could do nothing to save him.”
Now here’s the text from my mother’s poster:
Crocodiles—And Satan’s temptations, tactics, and tricks
1. Are well-camouflaged. (“What’s wrong with it?”)
2. Victimize the young who are innocent or less warry. (“It can’t happen to me.”)
3. Victims underestimate how fast and powerful the enemy is. (Addictions—pr0n, gambling, debt, smoking, drugs..)
4. Victims see others who seem to be unharmed (“in the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see”)
5. Wait in places where victims go to satisfy needs. (social—parties; emotional—peer influences)
6. Are patient and wait until victim feels safe and guard is down (late at night, relaxing, vacation, etc.)
7. Victims ignore warnings (parents, teachers, Holy Ghost, prophets’ messages)
It seems we have more spiritual crocodiles to look out for today than ever. I'm excited to listen to our guides in general conference!
Image #2: http://animal-wildlife.blogspot.com/2011/11/crocodile.html