Thursday, November 5, 2015

Boyd K. Packer on the dangers of spiritual crocodiles

President Boyd K. Packer (1924-2015) served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve (a position that no longer exists) from 1961 to 1970, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He served as president of that Quorum from 1994 until his death on July 3, 2015 at age 90.
"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.
"These spiritual crocodiles can kill or mutilate your souls. They can destroy your peace of mind and the peace of mind of those who love you. Those are the ones to be warned against, and there is hardly a watering place in all of mortality now that is not infested with them.... 
"If you will listen to the counsel of your parents and your teachers and your leaders when you are young, you can learn how to follow the best guide of all—the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. That is individual revelation. There is a process through which we can be alerted to spiritual dangers. Just as surely as that guide warned me, you can receive signals alerting you to the spiritual crocodiles that lurk ahead.
"If we can train you to listen to these spiritual communications, you will be protected from these crocodiles of life. You can learn what it feels like to be guided from on high. This inspiration can come to you now, in all of your activities, in school, and dating--not just in your Church assignments."
- Boyd K. Packer, "Spiritual Crocodiles," Ensign, May 1976, pp. 30-32
Click here to read the full article

This is a classic address by President Packer, given almost 40 years ago.  I was a young man preparing to enter the MTC, and remember vividly the impression of his analogy. He spoke of how predators can disguise themselves very subtly, so that innocent victims are right upon the danger before they are aware of the risk — but then it is too late.

There is great wisdom in listening to those who have greater wisdom and experience, both about temporal dangers and about the more critical spiritual traps. Such people can warn us of the things they've already seen and felt. If we learn to listen and heed, we can save ourselves from much sorrow!

It is a worthwhile exercise to list or enumerate the kinds of spiritual warnings that have been given to us recently by inspired leaders. We should always be alert to those kinds of messages, never thinking, "Oh, that doesn't apply to me." Any one of us could wander too close to spiritual dangers if we are not aware and vigilant!

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