“I have been nipped a time or two and on occasion have needed some spiritual first aid, but have been otherwise saved because I have been warned.”
Elder Boyd K. Packer, “Spiritual Crocodiles”, General Conference, April 1976
To give some background on what this quote is about, years ago Elder Packer went on safari and discovered that crocodiles were adept enough to hide themselves in the tracks of elephants that have since filled with water only inches deep, because of the depression that was made in the soil. As animals come to drink, the crocodile jumps out and nabs the prey.
He goes on to say that if visitors and others will listen to their guides, they can avoid being attacked by crocodiles. Because they know their hiding places.
He related this experience to the battle we have been in and, continue to be in, the one against good and evil. “Spiritual crocodiles” is his message to all. This is how he was nipped and wounded, not literally on safari. Spiritual crocodiles hide themselves in seemingly impossible spots to jump out and nab us when we go to “drink”, especially if we are oblivious or even complacent. But if we adhere to the warnings from our guides, namely scriptures, parents, priesthood leaders, prophets and apostles, and, of course, the spirit, we will make it through our mortal sojourn in this life. We may get wounded and scarred, requiring spiritual first aid (the Atonement), but we will become stronger and wiser.
Two impressions come to me about Elder Packer’s talk. One, apostles and prophets are mortals. They make mistakes like the rest of us, requiring reconciliation with God. And, two, the battle between good and evil is real. Evil exists. I’ve seen it personally, in a form that we mortals can comprehend. Spiritual crocodiles are as real and legitimate as crocodiles on the African safari. Only, they are even more hidden and imperceptible. And, for whatever reason, because their destruction is not immediate, we give those warnings less heed or don’t pay any attention at all.
If we are not diligent, we will get eaten. We have to drink, that’s part of this journey, but we need to learn to do so where our guides tell us. Listen to them. Be wise and smart.