The gecko bolted to the grass, turned and bolted back to the rocks. I’d gone to the doorway to turn on the sprinklers and his movement caught my attention.
He moved sideways and I could see a yard roach laying perpendicular to the gecko’s body…in the gecko’s mouth. Whoa! I’d never seen nature in action gecko-vs-yard roach style. And while it repulsed me quite a bit on a variety of levels, I could not turn away.
The yard roach, totally still, lay trapped in the gecko’s micro jaws. The gecko’s body prepared itself. Then, gecko suddenly dropped yard roach who headed for the hills, but, not fast enough. Wow, those geckos are fast. Recaptured, gecko flipped yard roach over, fatally trapped. Gecko’s little jaws began rotating. Yard roach looked dead. I thought I was about to see yard roach’s utter demise and inhalation.
But….I must have been leaning a little too far in because gecko apparently thought I wanted his prey (not a chance) and he darted off for some private dining. Gone in a flash.
The yard roach’s choices yielded dramatic consequences. Did the yard roach know geckos inhabited its world–my back yard? Did it feel the stress of coming above ground to search for food? Had it encountered a gecko before? Why did it decide to take the risk?
The gecko positioned itself on a column and surveyed the yard. In the blink of an eye, it sprang from its vantage point and attacked. In the blink of an eye, yard roach’s freedom ended. After a moment of liberation and ultimate recapture, gecko killed yard roach.
I couldn’t help but think of Nephi’s warning—“thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.” Gecko knew his prey and was in total control.
That seems a little dramatic doesn’t it?
In “’One Thing Needful’: Becoming Women of Greater Faith in Christ,” Sister Patricia Holland’s description of Satan’s war against women reminded me of the gecko on the column.
If I were Satan and wanted to destroy a society, I think I would stage a full-blown blitz on women. I would keep them so distraught and distracted that they would never find the calming strength and serenity for which their sex has always been known.
Satan has effectively done that, catching us in the crunch of trying to be superhuman instead of striving to reach our unique, God-given potential within such diversity. …
Too many of us are struggling and suffering, too many are running faster than they have strength, expecting too much of themselves….
We must have the courage to be imperfect while striving for perfection. …We can become so sidetracked in our compulsive search for identity and self-esteem that we really believe it can be found in having perfect figures or academic degrees or professional status or even absolute motherly success. Yet, in so searching externally, we can be torn from our true internal, eternal selves.
We often worry so much about pleasing and performing for others that we lose our uniqueness—that full and relaxed acceptance of one’s self as a person of worth and individuality. We become so frightened and insecure that we cannot be generous toward the diversity and individuality, and yes, problems, of our neighbors. Too many women with these anxieties watch helplessly as their lives unravel from the very core that centers and sustains them.”
Caught in a flash in a trap carefully laid. We wonder what went wrong. Perhaps we hadn’t noticed the subtle shiftings in our souls until Satan has caught us in “that crunch.”
Trapped in a Jungle Maze
Eager to find a waterfall everyone had been talking about, my friend and I set off across the mountain ridge to a trail marker pointing downhill. We descended the mountain chatting excitedly about reaching the falls. We came to a crossroads. Do we turn right or left? Even though we saw someone turning left, we thought the path to the right looked more traveled. So we chose the right, which in this case wasn’t actually the right.
We continued all the way down the mountain to the valley, walked along the river, and finally stopped to admit we were lost. We wondered along the ravine for awhile when the rain started to fall and I worried we’d be lost for days.
We had followed the sign to the crossroads. We then followed the well-worn trail. But the well-worn trail didn’t lead to the happiness we sought. It led us to confusion, self-doubt, and fear.
We found ourselves on paths that ultimately fed into each other. We followed each path, walking around and around in a huge circle trying to find the way out of the jungle. My dread mounted every time we found ourselves at the same gigantic tree—a tree we hadn’t seen on our original descent into the valley.
Trapped in a Snare
Am I trapped in my adversary’s snare? I felt trapped in that moment. We’d exhausted all of the paths around us. We could not find the way out.
I felt trapped.
But I clung to a hope—a hope in fulfillment of previous escapes from snares.
Therefore, cheer up your hearts, and remember that ye are free to act for yourselves—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.
Free to choose. Is it really that simple?
Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man. And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
It seems obvious that we wouldn’t give up at the bottom of a mountain just because we were lost. But that was an option.
I’d felt compelled to just give up on the side of a mountain when I was actually on the right path. The mountain pushed my limits mentally, physically, and emotionally. I didn’t feel like I had anything left to give. I couldn’t imagine forcing one more step. I decided I’d rather just sit down on the path and die there.
I’d face captivity and death–captivity in my lost maze, fearing death by wild boar or flash flood and captivity by reaching my breaking point on the right path, preferring death to continuing on.
We are free because all things are given to us “which are expedient unto man.” In those moments, which became metaphorical lessons to me, I was free to choose—give myself up to the captivity, yoke, and burden which held me bound or to choose liberty through Christ.
And it shall come to pass in that day that his burden shall be taken away from off thy shoulder, and his yoke from off thy neck, and the yoke shall be destroyed because of the anointing.
Because of the anointing? Jesus Christ is the Anointed One. I have been anointed in a covenant to bind myself to Him and because of that covenant, I’m promised specific blessings. Understanding the true nature of that covenant empowers me to identify the ways I’m bound and captive and enabled to choose liberty.
The Lord’s atoning grace breaks those bands of captivity—every one of them: sin, death, weakness, fallen natures, fear, doubt, sorrow and grief, all of them.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Deliverance From the Snare
On the mountain, my sister told me to face my fears and doubts. She said she knew I could find the strength if I reached deep inside. She promised to help me. She prayed for me and called upon the powers of heaven to supply needed strength. Strengthened by her faith and her belief in me, we made the journey step by step in manageable increments until we stood liberated at the trail head.
In the valley’s jungle maze, my friend and I prayed in the rain by that big tree. We asked for vision to see the path to freedom. We retraced the now familiar path back to the river. Suddenly in the brush, we saw a hidden path. We’d walked past it in our captive blindness for an hour. But when we tuned in to our faith, we saw the path and climbed the mountain trail out of the jungle.
Captivity in these cases was self-inflicted—I picked the wrong path and I reached the end of my rope on the right path. But still despite my mistakes, when I chose freedom through Christ’s help, I found it.
Is It Ever Too Late?
Is there ever a point of no return, when it’s too late to choose, when the gecko’s grip is fatal?
[H]owever late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made or talents you think you don’t have, or however far from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible for you to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ’s Atonement shines. …
There is no problem which you cannot overcome. There is no dream that in the unfolding of time and eternity cannot yet be realized….It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time.
Just because there’s time doesn’t mean it’s easy. You may feel stranded on the side of a cliff exhausted and unsure the journey’s worth it anymore. You may feel lost at the bottom of an insurmountable mountain and wonder how you’ll ever get to the top again.
But if you choose to flee Satan’s grasp, the Savior promises the enabling power of His grace to any who seek it. The Holy Ghost prompts the escape. The Savior provides the way. The Father provides the Why and the power to choose.
O how great the goodness of our God, who prepareth a way for our escape from the grasp of this awful monster; yea, that monster, death and hell.
I’ll tell you, and myself, what my sister told me on the mountain. Face your fears and doubts. Be realistic about your personal weaknesses and struggles. Reach deep inside and see find the strength within. Look a few steps ahead and believe you can conquer that manageable distance. You can. I believe in you and I pray for the powers of heaven to supply needed strength.
There’s One who knows not only the snare that binds, but how it feels to break free. He promised
I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.
And I believe that He will.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.