This morning we all had the amazing opportunity to all go and have breakfast together as a mission. It was very delicious and amazing, but while we were there, one of the Elders I serve with noticed a quail in the yard that we could see from the window where we were. It gave me the opportunity to relate a hunting experience I had with a grouse. I was with my Dad, brother, and a few family friends. We were really hunting for elk, but we did end up with a grouse as well.
If I remember right, we were either just walking out with a heavy load of elk meat or we had stopped for like a mid-day snack or something. Either way, we were all together and as we were sitting there, a grouse came out of the bushes in front of us. I would estimate it was about 10-15 feet from us. I am not sure what was wrong with it, but it didn’t really seem to mind us. One of the other hunters we were with, mentioned to my brother that he had a small game license, and that if he wanted to try for the grouse, he could have it. The only rifles we had were those for hunting large game, like elk, so not really something a person would use to hunt a bird, as shooting it with one would destroy half of the bird. But that isn’t what happened in our case. I remember my brother laying down and taking time to aim and shoot at the grouse. It felt like forever, but was probably only a minute or two before he shot. As he did, the grouse took off flying, it rose about 20 or 30 feet then dropped like a rock. And then it did it again, I think repeating it three or four times. I don’t know how many of you have been to harvest chickens, but you may know that chickens also run around for some time after they have lost their head. And that is exactly what happened to the grouse my brother shot, he had blown the head off.
Now, you might be wondering how this could relate back to the gospel, and I was wondering how I could relate it at first, but then Elder Howden reminded me of this verse from the Book of Mormon.
“And it came to pass that after he had smitten off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and fell; and after that he had struggled for breath, he died.” (Ether 15: 31) This is the end of a struggle between Shiz and Coriantumr. Those two had taken to battle against each other for power and control of government over the people. In the end because of the anger they had, the entire nation of people was destroyed. The two continued to gather their armies and come against each other until it was only the two of them left. And then, at the very end, as in the verse above, Coriantumr cuts off Shiz’s head. In my mind, Shiz struggles a little like a chicken, and then falls dead.
I had thought the parallels between the two of them and headless chickens to be enlightening. The reason chickens (and grouse) continue to flap around and be animated after their head is gone is because of a nerve reaction. It is not that they are trying to escape, but their body goes on auto-pilot. Coriantumr and Shiz serve as examples for us of those who allowed the nerve reactions in them to control what they do. Although they had many times to repent and to turn from the wrath they had, they allowed the emotions they had to control them, rather than being in charge of their emotions. Although I doubt anyone who reads this is in a position of leading an army to destruction to prove a point, we can learn from their mistakes. We can learn to take control in our lives, and we can remember to keep the spirit alive in us. We read earlier the control they had lost in verse 19, “But behold, the Spirit of the Lord had ceased striving with them, and Satan had full power over the hearts of the people; for they were given up unto the hardness of their hearts, and the blindness of their minds that they might be destroyed; wherefore they went again to battle.”
Following the spirit in our lives is what keeps us from danger and keeps us from harm. It warns us of things which might come upon us, and also warns us of danger we might inflict on ourselves. I do know God loves us very much, and I know He wants to help us. I know that while our consequences are very different than those in this story, ignoring the spirit in our lives will take us away from God and the blessings He wants to give us. I am grateful for the Spirit I have felt in my life! And I pray that I can continue to be diligent in exercising my faith—that I can continue to pray, read in the scriptures, attend church, and serve others throughout my life so I can have His guidance to help me. I know as you continue to do those things as well that you can also feel the spirit grow and be a guide for you in your life. I know even when we have struggles and trials around us, as we continue to grow our faith and rely on the spirit we can find the anchor and better hope.
“Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.” (Ether 12: 4)