Ever since I read Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice, I have wanted to visit the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia. It is the world’s largest coral reef system, so large, in fact, that it can be seen from space. I have pictured myself bravely snorkeling through the coral, being entertained by the most brilliant species of fish to be seen anywhere. But there is also danger there. I remember my father’s account of coral poisoning that laid him up for weeks. He had a horror of coral for the rest of his life.
There is, obviously, an analogy here. Heavenly Father made those brilliant fish as part of his creation of a beautiful place for man to dwell. But, he also made the reef that serves as their home. If we want to enjoy the fish, we must go carefully, lest we are ensnared by the coral. Our life as Saints of the latter days is much the same. There is so much that is still beautiful and desirable about our world, but it seems that the coral is growing all around us, unchecked, a trap for the unwary.
As a writer, I am keenly aware of this. When I was lost in the dark mists of depression, good books were often the only thing that stood between me and suicide. So now that I am recovered, I am committed to writing about the light of redemption—the saving of each individual soul from the dangers of the reef. To this end, I have Moroni’s words displayed above my computer monitor: “Behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.”
I write about good and evil, the reef and the fish, because choosing between the two is the greatest test of this life. We can be a failure by the world’s standards, but if we choose good all the days of our life (repenting when necessary) we shall win eternal life. And so, though my heroes and heroines are surrounded by evil, they always manage to negotiate their way through the coral, and with the Lord’s help, find the good. It is often exceedingly difficult, and for this reason they, like us, need a guide–someone who knows the reef intimately. We need our Savior, who is well acquainted with our weaknesses and shortcomings, as well as the pitfalls of our particular situations, to add His knowledge and strength to ours.
In his masterful talk, “The Atonement: All for All,” (Ensign, May, 2004) Elder Bruce R. Hafen makes this abundantly clear: “When the Savior’s all and our all come together, we will find not only forgiveness of sin, . . . “we shall be like him.” (Moroni 7:48). As we give our all in our quest for eternal life with Him, Elder Hafen promises “. . . because we are so totally in this together, our being ‘at one’ with Him in overcoming all opposition will itself bring us ‘incomprehensible joy.'”(Alma 28:8).
If we can humble ourselves to become one with our guide, we need have no fear of the reefs, or the obstacles of life. Like my heroes and heroines, we are ordinary people, but we have an extraordinary Elder Brother, who has done it all and seen it all. He has allowed himself to be scraped and bruised by the coral so that he could learn the way through it. (See Alma 7:11-12) We are safe with him. His grace is sufficient for our needs.
As Paul has advised us: “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think of these things.” (Philippians 4:6-8, emphasis added).
When we are safe in our guide’s keeping, we are free to enjoy the beauties and happiness of this lifetime without fear. It is good for us to remember that our Savior suffered and died so that we could do so.
G.G. Vandagriff is a wife, mother, grandmother, and the author of twelve books. In 2010, her novel The Last Waltz: A Novel of Love and War won the Whitney for Best Historical Fiction.
Her most recent novel, The Only Way to Paradise can be purchased on Amazon or Barnes & Noble.com. Last week, her very first novel, Cankered Roots, reappeared in its second edition. Go to http://ggvandagriff.com to read about her news and her works. Alex and Briggie (the heroines of Cankered Roots) appear in five novels and have their own fan club on Facebook