It was a beautiful September day with warm sun shining. It was even still warm enough to water-ski, but I was sitting in seminary. It was only the beginning of the year, but I was already anxious to finish high school and seminary forever.
“And this scripture I want you to mark with a V.I.S.,” said Brother Eliason, my seminary teacher. It was Genesis 39:9 [Gen. 39:9], and I automatically colored in the scripture, emphasizing “… how then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” We skipped to verse 12 and darkened “… fled, and got him out.” Then I wrote V.I.S. in the margin, which was Brother Eliason’s code for “Very Important Scripture.”
He told us about Joseph’s situation and how it took a great deal of strength for him to run away from Potiphar’s wife. Joseph knew he was in a situation where he needed to have made his decision beforehand. Then Brother Eliason said, “If you ever remember a scripture in your life, remember this one.”
“Then why did you tell us last week that we have to memorize 40 of them?” someone wisecracked from the back of the room. The bell drowned out Brother Eliason’s answer, and we all filed out of class.
Soon, that day was over, then that week, the month, and then the year. I was planning to go to school in the fall, but my plans changed drastically when my mother was diagnosed with cancer. She and my stepfather and I moved to a small apartment in Houston to be close to the hospital she needed.
My stepfather and I took turns driving Mom to the hospital. The chemotherapy made her terribly sick, and soon she lost all of her hair. She had been a strong woman who had survived the death of a husband and the problems of blending two families, so to see her like that was very depressing for me.
I enrolled in a community college to take classes and get out of the house, and it was there that I met Ron. He was the friend I needed, and we soon started spending all of our time together. He was older, although he’d never been married, and he had a nice sports car, a house, and a boat. He was not a member of the Church.
It was easy to forget my problems at home when I was with him, because we did so many fun things together. He even came to church with me regularly. But soon he was suggesting that we spend the night together, since that was the way his relationships usually progressed. I repeatedly told him about my religious conviction against this, but he didn’t give up.
I needed a friend, and I mistakenly continued to see him. I started to weaken at the same time I knew being with him was wrong. I was weak and vulnerable, and it became easier to ignore the Spirit.
Then one night, in one of my weakest times, I started to rationalize. I believed that Ron loved me, and I knew he could take care of me. I suddenly felt very secure in his arms. Then I heard a voice in my head that said, “… fled, and got him out.” I was startled that I would remember that phrase after all that time. Then the voice seemed to come even louder, “… fled, and got him out.” Without another thought I literally fled from the room and the situation.
When my head cleared, I could see how close I had come to making a mistake that would have changed my life forever. I could see how Satan used my emotions to cloud my judgment, and I could also see how one scripture had saved my life.
I often wonder if Brother Eliason knew the impact of what he was teaching us on that ordinary fall day. I am thankful for him and for both a Heavenly Father and an earthly father that love me more than Ron ever did. And I’m thankful for the scriptures—especially for the one I remembered so well.
If temptation’s too strong, leave.