Among all the different kinds of natural phenomenon, I am fascinated the most by tsunamis. There is something about a monstrous wave that always catches my attention. To me, the fact that it can come out of nowhere is both intriguing and scary. Of all the tsunami occurrences, the event that will forever stay in my memory is the Boxing Day tsunami; the one that took almost 250,000 lives in the countries of Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and India. What continues to draw me to the story of that fateful December 26, 2004 tragedy is not only the event itself but also its spiritual implications on how we can avoid and survive our personal spiritual tsunamis.
The Fascination With Tsunamis
I was able to watch a firsthand account of that event through the documentary entitled “Tsunami: Caught on Camera.” Boxing Day 2004 was a serene day for the people in the affected countries. Christmas had just ended and it seemed to be a perfect day for everyone. Little did they know that in another country, Indonesia, a massive earthquake had just occurred, an earthquake which eventually would cause a gigantic tsunami.
The first sign of that killer tsunami was a subtle one. Gradually, the water started to cease as if the ocean was pulling it away from the shore. When this happened, the tourists on the different beaches were left in awe by the variety of beautiful shells scattered all over the barren shore. No one knew it was the first sign of danger. Instead of seeking for higher ground, they all ran towards the exposed beach and collected all the stunning pieces they could find. When the waves started to roll in, it fascinated the tourists more. They were enchanted by the beauty of the waves that looked so serene in the distance. When the realization dawned on them that a tsunami was coming their way, it was all too late.
I reflected upon that event and I realized that in life, there can also be spiritual tsunamis. These tsunamis are subtle, they captivate us, they leave us in awe, but if we fail to recognize the danger, they can eventually trap and swallow us. There are choices that seem to be harmless but are actually detrimental to our spirituality. Like the tourists on the beach, these spiritual tsunamis have the power to draw us closer and closer in fascination, until it is too late.
Like the survivors of that Boxing Day Tsunami tragedy, what can we do to avoid and survive the waves that can drown our spirits?
Recognizing Signs Of Spiritual Tsunamis
When the water started to recede, the locals immediately fled the area and sought higher ground. The beauty of the shells did not appeal to them; they knew that danger was coming their way. To overcome our spiritual tsunamis, we must follow the counsel of Elder David A. Bednar to see “things as they really are.”
We can more fully discern monstrous waves that can devour the spirit by listening to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. The Boxing Day tsunami is quite a personal one for our family. One of my aunts was working there when tragedy struck. When the waters receded, a tourist shouted at her “That’s a tsunami. Go to a higher ground.” She was able to survive because of that. Sometimes, because of the subtlety of danger, we can’t fully identify what’s good or bad. However, the Lord sends us the guidance of the Holy Ghost to help us avoid spiritual pitfalls and dangers. Listen to the promptings always.
“Does it help me draw closer to Christ? Does it draw me to do good?” Like the survivors of the 2004 tsunami, you sometimes only have a couple of minutes to decide what to choose. In the Book of Mormon, the Prophet Mormon gave a clear guideline on discerning good from evil. He said:
“But 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.” (Moroni 7:13)
Fourth, if you see a spiritual tsunami coming your way, run as fast as you can. Don’t linger a little more. Be like Joseph of Egypt. He was able to resist the advances of Potiphar’s wife because he “fled.” He did not stay a little more nor engage in small talk with temptation. He ran and he survived. When something that does not invite you to do good comes your way, run as fast as you can, and that will save you from being devoured by the waves of sin.
Lastly, seek higher ground. There is safety in high places. Keep your life worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost, draw closer to the Lord, and stand immovable on higher ground.
As the improvements of our time continue to come, so do temptations and immorality. In reality, they often come as attractive and irresistible things that can draw you in. Like those who survived the fateful waves of December 2004, learn to know the signs of danger, listen to the Holy Ghost, know if it is from the Lord, and run as fast as you can from sin and immorality and stay on higher ground. Yes, temptations can be overwhelming and scary but the Lord will help you overcome them. With Him, we can survive our spiritual tsunamis.