In August 1968, I was excited be part of a family reunion held in the mountains of northern Utah. Just five years old at the time, this beautiful mountain setting provided endless adventures for my cousins and me. My father and two uncles decided to leave the reunion for a day and fly over the mountains to look for herds of deer and elk in preparation for the upcoming hunting season. My uncle was a pilot and owned a small, single-engine plane.
As my father and two uncles began flying over the beautiful mountain valleys and peaks, they realized that in order to see any deer or elk they would need to fly fairly low. As they flew over the ridge of Mt. Elizabeth, the plane was caught in a downdraft, and the bursts of turbulent air pushed the airplane to the ground. Obviously, the crash was devastating. My uncle Stanley was killed in the crash, while my Uncle David and my father sustained severe injuries, but survived. I have vivid memories of the moment I was told about this awful crash.
The investigation of the crash concluded that the pilot was not able to respond to the turbulence of the downdraft because the airplane was flying very low and was immediately pushed into the trees and the mountainside. A tragic lesson regarding the need to stay as far away from danger as possible.
Like the disastrous airplane crash, the scriptures provide clarity that one of Satan’s consistent tactics is to get us to feel safe, confident and in control while coming as close to the danger as possible, ultimately allowing Satan to drag down our souls without leaving us an ability to retreat (Helaman 5:12; 2 Nephi 1:13; Helaman 7:16).
We are taught in the Book of Mormon that the devil, “leadeth by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever” (2 Nephi 26:22). According to the Doctrine and Covenants, “he goeth up and down, to and fro in the earth, seeking to destroy the souls of men” (Doctrine and Covenants 10:27).
Satan seeks to darken and mislead the minds of men. He seeks to minimize the seriousness of wrongdoing. Deception and falsehood are his tools. He is a skillful imitator. All this in an attempt to ensnare us. “And thus we see that the devil will not support his children at the last day, but doth speedily drag them down to hell” (Alma 30:60).
While walking the path of life, if we get too close to the edge, any one of us can be dragged down if we fail to beware. The Lord gives this uncomfortable warning, “But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:32).
We are blessed to have a prophet of God that can clearly see and sense the dangers around us. In the October 2021 General Conference, President Nelson taught, “My dear brothers and sisters, these are the latter days. If you and I are to withstand the forthcoming perils and pressures, it is imperative that we each have a firm spiritual foundation built upon the rock of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ” (Russell M. Nelson, “The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation,” Liahona, Nov. 2021). President Nelson continued, “The Lord has declared that despite today’s unprecedented challenges, those who build their foundations upon Jesus Christ, and have learned how to draw upon His power, need not succumb to the unique anxieties of this era” (Russell M. Nelson, “The Temple and Your Spiritual Foundation”).
With absolute clarity, President Nelson has taught us how to avoid letting Satan drag us down and how to build our spiritual foundations on Jesus Christ. President Nelson said, “I plead with you today to counter the lure of the world by making time for the Lord in your life-each and every day” (Russell M. Nelson, “Make Time for the Lord,” Liahona, Nov.2021). When the prophet of the Lord says that he pleads with us, we need to listen and act. President Nelson added, “My brothers and sisters, I plead with you to make time for the Lord! Make your own spiritual foundation firm and able to stand the test of time by doing those things that allow the Holy Ghost to be with you always” (Russell M. Nelson, “Make Time for the Lord”). A second plea from the prophet should cause us to give double the attention to what he taught.
Just as flying too low resulted in the inability to react to the dangers of the turbulent downdraft, Satan tries to entice us to walk close to the edge so he can drag us down. We can avoid these dangers by responding to the pleas of our dear prophet by making time for the Lord and by making our spiritual foundations firmly built on Jesus Christ.