"Morning Glory; by: Sister Jenne and Sister Anderson
"His words were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart. His words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords."
Imagine big, glorious, white buds popping through the emerald green. Hundreds of them cutting through a sea of leaves. As the golden afternoon sun glimmers through the petals of the flowers, a feeling of peace fills the hearts of the pedestrians. The shadow of the Duvall visitor's center coats the ground, and the only break in the monotonous darkness is the pure snow-like blossoms. The average passerby doesn't even consider the fact that these lavish flowers are slowly sucking the life out of all remaining vegetation. Rhododendrons shrink and shrivel in the suffocating grip of curious curls of luminous vines. The strips of scarlet roots tangle and twist just beneath the surface of the other leaves, slowly cutting off all nutrients. Hands grasp and gut out the twist of twigs from the bushes. The gardener disrupts the virus from spreading. But with each pull and tug; leaves tear, vines break, and the once magnificent bush is left tired and slightly toppled over.
One might venture to ask, "why wait til right before suffocation to rescue the bush?" "why not just cut the weed off in the beginning to save the branches of the Rhodies?"
Nephi counsels us: "He [the Devil] is the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever." Just as Morning Glory sneaks small tendrils of vine along stems of healthy plants, Satan patiently guides many, even believers, far from the straight and narrow. Rather than shooting up overnight, like other weeds seem to do, it creeps up, unbeknownst. The thriving nature of this plant is completely parasitic. Without other plants to wrap around, growth would be stunted. Without a gardener, there is no hope to overcome.
How often do we fail to recognize our own complex vines and traps, twisting slowly and steadily around our feet and legs, working their way toward our very soul?
We need to do like Elder Andersen counsels and "beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes". "Temptation will fall in our way without our seeking, and evil will present itself even when we desire to do the most right." (Talmage) When the tangles of the devils binding cords slither towards us we will one day be strong like Christ and be able to say "Get thee hence, Satan..." The prime protection comes from the fervent repetition of pulling the weeds while they are young. Stopping the temptation early on. No matter what dirt you plant it in, or what weed killer you spray, the weeds will come; but we are promised: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:13) "The very moment you begin to seek your Heavenly Father, in that moment, the hope of his light will begin to awaken, enliven, and ennoble your soul. The darkness may not dissipate all at once, but as surely as night always gives way to dawn, the light will come." (Uchtdorf)
So, friends "what shall we then say to these things? For if God be for us who can prevail against us?"
Thanks to the counsel of modern day prophets and apostles, we know that "however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made...you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines." (Holland) When the sheer blackness seemingly distinguishes the light, when hopelessness creeps into the corners of our testimonies, when it seems the sun will never shine in Seattle, the adversary grins. Of course, we will face injury and trial. Of course, we will experience numbness and pain. When "the temptation to evade sacrifice and suffering and to follow a more comfortable way," (Talmage) presents itself, faith overcomes obstacles and endures through discouragement.
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. No matter how many weeds grow, Christ, the perfect gardener, can, in fact, destroy every one, allowing flowers to take root and blossom, unhindered by the suffocating kiss of the Morning Glory.
Yes, Sister Anderson and I wrote an essay together this week. We were discussing Satan as we pulled out morning glory from among the Rhododendrons by the Duvall visitor's center. See if you can guess which parts I wrote and which parts she wrote. We have different styles of writing for sure. That's about it, folks!
I discovered that there is a restaurant here called "Pickletime" and anyone who comes to Washington with me after my mission will be eating there with me.
I love you all!