By Will Anderson
I got knocked out by a chicken once. Yup. Stone. Cold. Out. Yes, a chicken; small bird, lives on a farm, lays eggs and tastes delicious deep fried.
It was while serving an LDS mission, years ago in Micronesia. I was on a tiny atoll called Majuro. One day I was visiting a small village and among the collection of shanties was a mother hen with a newly hatched flock of baby chicks. For some reason that day, I was overcome by the desire to hold one of those little chickens. I slyly moved closer to the hen and her chicks and by-so-doing, it was clear that I had alerted and irritated the mother chicken.
Once my missionary companion and the other islanders could see what my intention was, they gave me stern warning against trying to snatch a chick. I ignored their warnings, and once I had scooted within arms reach of the chicks, I bent down to strike. No sooner did I swoop in then the mother hen clucked with all her might and with a jumping wing flap sneak attack she hopped right up into my face and smacked me several times with her wings. This startled me so fiercely that I went reeling backwards and tripped over a large mango tree root. Falling, I struck my head on another root and blacked out for a second or two. I regained consciousness to the sights and sounds of my companion leaning over me asking if I was OK and to the belly-laughs of all the villagers. From that day on, I was renamed as- what can most closely be translated as- “Elder Chicken Slayer.”
I learned a valuable lesson that day that I carry with me still- never underestimate your opponent. Nowadays, there is no opponent more aggressively trying to get into our lives than that of the Adversary — Satan, The Devil. He is real, and he is working to ruin each of us. One of his best techniques is to blur the lines between good and evil so completely that those who have strayed over to his side still believe they are actually doing the right thing.
For whatever reason, we, as members of The Church can become interested and even passionate about points of doctrine we don’t understand, or agree with. I think that is normal and I, myself, have had issues that I needed to work through. But, if we underestimate our opponent and allow the Adversary to slowly work on us, those concerns can begin to take over our day-to-day lives and we begin to focus less on what is truly important — our relationship with The Savior.
We don’t have an explanation for everything. The Church, as a corporate entity, makes mistakes and is led by imperfect people. Times and teachings change. None of those factors should limit us in our pursuit of a personal, meaningful relationship with The Savior. If we underestimate our opponent, we give him the chance he needs to move in and begin needling us with those things that will be most destructive. Unlike the mother hen in my story, the Adversary knows each of us personally. He has had a lifetime to study us, to come to understand what makes us tick, and to identify where we are most vulnerable. It will not be all at once, but slowly. As we give place to the thoughts and feelings he forces on us, we begin to focus on destructive and damaging behavior and forget that we are capable of using our time more wisely to focus on knowing Christ.
If we spend our time distracted by the Adversary, the light and the spirit and the optimism we once had will be replaced with darkness, confusion and bitterness. It can be difficult. Heaven knows I am not perfect. None of us are. However, as we remember to focus on things that matter, and to use our time to read scriptures, ponder and pray, serve and forgive others, we are able to create and maintain a relationship with The Savior, rather than give way to Satan.
Yes, I got knocked out by a chicken. I was shamed and embarrassed by it, but I learned from it. There are forces out there trying to tear us down. Never underestimate their power and their ability to ruin you. Spend your time seeking Christ and his light and his companionship and you will never go wrong.