Tuesday, June 8, 2010
When I was a small girl living in rural Arizona, we played outside. We built forts out of tumbleweeds, and houses out of boxes. We played cowboys and indians, we climbed trees and we raced through the desert on our bare feet. We played in the canals near our home and collected shells from the banks and turtles and fish from the water. I learned very early in my life to avoid the ants. It seems like the ants were everywhere. They came in all sizes, from the little black ones to be big red and black carpenter ants, but the ones that we really tried to avoid were the southern (California) fire ants.
When I was small, probably about 4 or 5 years old, my family went to Globe Arizona to visit relatives. There were about five of us kids running around outside, when I tripped and fell into a fire ant colony. Now, if you are lucky enough not to know what these type of ants are, I will be most unhappy to explain it to you. They bite! Hard! And they attack when they think you are near their nest. Obviously, I was a little too close to their nest. So, they attacked me. My mom had to take the garden hose to me and scrape the ants off with a piece of plastic while I screamed and cried and sobbed from the pain.
I don't remember too much about it except that I was miserable. I swelled up from all the bites, and the worse part was that it made me sick. My mom had to take me to the doctor and they had to treat me for being allergic to the ant bites. To this day, I can not get stung by any ant without swelling up and having welts break out all over the area of the bites. I am also allergic to bees and wasps. I do not like any of them. I avoid them all. If we get ants in the house, my husband has to get rid of them. The few times that I have tried to help, he saw the welts they cause on me and banished me from the kitchen. He takes care of any stinging insect and we make very sure that we do everything we can to keep ants of any kind out of the house.
I think that temptation and sin can be a little like these fire ants. We can dance around it for years, never knowing or experiencing the danger that we are narrowly avoiding. We might see the sin, play around it, tolerate it, but never quite partake of it. Then the time comes when we give in and try things out that aren't good for us. We allow temptation and sin to come in contact with us. We allow it to touch our spirits and the good in us reacts to the poison. We can (and often do) get spiritually sick from sin. Think about pride, anger, humiliation, embarrassment, and even avoidance of others. What are those things if they are not our spirits reacting to the results of sin? Long after the time when we came in contact with it, we can still feel the effects of those choices in our lives.
Our Heavenly Father has told us to not only avoid the sin, but to also avoid the temptation of it. When Joseph Smith was at Carthage, he spoke of being innocent of offense toward God and man (D&C 135:4)
He didn't get that clear conscience from doing nothing or from doing his own thing. He didn't get it from playing around with the ants of sin.
He got it because he followed the teachings and commandments from God. If we are also to return to our Heavenly Father with that same conscience, we must stand assertively against sin and keep it from being a part of our own lives.
We need to strive to avoid the fire ants of sin and temptation and not allow them to come in contact with us. We need to understand that evil is real and take precautions against it. We need to understand that we can never partake of temptation without suffering the consequences. Sin has a bite and sting even worse than that of the fire ants. For the bite and sting of sin would work to keep us away from our loving Heavenly Father.
May you realize that He truly does love you! He has provided a way for you to return to Him.
May you stand has His witnesses at all times and in all things and in all places.