Crossing the Line

Line in the Sand


“You can waste your life drawing lines.
Or you can live your life crossing them.
But there are some lines that are
way too dangerous to cross.”
Meredith Grey, Grey’s Anatomy


I’m going to share a series of true stories and intriguing images and I want you to think about what they have in common (actually, the name of this post is the spoiler).

Shane, Joshua, and Sarah are avid hikers.  Their love for the outdoors and world travel brought them to the Middle East in July 2009 with a goal to hike northern Syria and Iraq, and hike up the Ahmed Awa, a gorgeous mountain range that divides Iran and Iraq.

But their trip took an unexpected turn when they were seized by Iranian military forces.

As the hikers descended down the mountain, uniformed guards with guns drawn descended upon the hikers and accused them of trespassing.

“We’re innocent!” the hikers said, “We didn’t know we crossed the boundary.”  Shane, Joshua, and Sarah explained that except for a few watchtowers and occasional signposts, the border is largely unmarked.  But their reasons did not matter – they were promptly arrested on charges of illegal entry and espionage.

HikersDuring imprisonment for the next couple of years, the hikers became part of a complicated diplomatic struggle between Iran, Iraq, and the United States.  One US Department revealed frustration with the hikers for their “lack of coordination, particularly after being forewarned” about the proximity of Iran’s borders.      (Michael R. Gordon/Andrew W. Lehren, New York Times, Oct 22, 2010)

As for the fate of the hikers – thank heaven, they were released.  Sara was set free in 2010, more than a year after her arrest, due to health issues.  Shane and Josh, however, remained in Iranian custody for another year until they were finally released in September 2011.



Misstep for Canadian Relay Team
One of Canada’s proudest moments of the 2012 Olympics came when their men’s 4×100 meter relay team came in third to win the bronze medal.  Behind only to powerhouses Jamaica (who had set a world record) and America (who had set a national record), Canadian sprinters had come to put their country on the podium, and they did just that.

But the Canadians went from elation to devastation in minutes when they saw the replay on the stadium’s jumbo screen.  One of their runners’ feet had touched the line.  Jared Connaughton’s left foot stepped just outside his lane… by a toe.  A toe!

Jared Connaughton photo: Vancouver Sun

Jared Connaughton          photo: Vancouver Sun

The report stated:
“Connaughton was caught violating Rule 163 3a, which says that each runner ‘shall keep within his allocated lane.'”  As Connaughton finished the third leg and prepared to hand the baton to Warner, he let the left side of his left foot barely creep over the inside lane line – for only one step.

Jared Connaughton said:
“I take full responsibility.  I’m the captain of this team, and we ran a great relay tonight, but a rule is a rule.  We showed the world that we’re one of the best relay teams in the world, and one step [over the line] took that away.”
(Nicholas J. Cotsonika, Yahoo Sports, Saturday, August 11, 2012)

Now take a look at some Miscalculations in Architecture & Design
Pictures speak for themselves.



Stairs into Wall

Floating door



Mistakes in Art

Norman RockwellSee if you can spot what is wrong with Norman Rockwell’s classic painting.

See it yet?

Take a look at the guy with the red shirt and notice how many legs he has.  Norman, Norman, Norman.



Okay, one more example.  This one is the most devastating.


vernal falls

Vernal Falls in Yosemite National Park

Misfortune for Yosemite Visitors
In the summer of 2011, the St. George Parish young adult group made a visit to Yosemite National Park’s Vernal Falls.  Because the previous winter had experienced an unusually heavy snow pack, the park was seeing the effects of elevated waters running at raging capacity.  Normally, visitors are advised to exercise caution around water in Yosemite, but this particular summer the park was urging “extreme caution.”

The church group, along with hundreds of tourists, made their way up Mist Trail to a landing vista point at the top of Vernal Falls. The stunning vista point is surrounded by guardrails, separating the public from the water, and signs warning: “Do not climb guardrails,” “Take caution.”

As the young adult group began taking pictures, two of them decided it would be a good idea to hop the guardrail and onto a rock protruding out of the rapids. It would give them a better view of the falls and a better picture. Even though everyone urged them to stay back, Hormiz and Ramina disregarded the signs and the pleas, and climbed over.

Then when the two stood to pose for a picture, the unthinkable happened.

Ramina slipped on the rock. Hormiz tried to grab her, but they both fell into the fast current.  As the water swells briskly took them closer to the edge of the waterfall, a close friend, Ninos, instinctively jumped in the water in an attempt to save them, but all three, Hormiz, Ramina, and Ninos, were swept over the 317 foot Falls to their deaths.

The News Article stated:
“The group was witnessed entering the water above Vernal Fall, approximately 25 feet from the precipice.  Witnesses reported to park officials that several people urged the group members to step back from the river, since it was flowing swiftly and extremely cold.  The area is signed as a dangerous area, and the group had crossed a metal guardrail placed there to keep visitors away from the dangerously fast moving water… One group member said that two of the victims clung together as they neared the abyss.
(National Park Service July 20, 2011,

“I turned around and looked up and [David and Badal] were being taken by the water over the waterfall…We were all crying and praying.”

Another witness said:
“I saw the man’s eyes when he went over the falls.  That was devastating.”
( July 20, 2011)

Their bodies were never recovered.

Crossing the Line
What do these stores and visuals have in common?  Lines were crossed that should not have been.  And when certain lines are crossed, unfortunate – sometimes tragic – things happen.

In the instance of art and architecture – things wont work or make sense.
In the case of these harrowing stories, there will be imprisonment, disqualification, or death.

Because God is a god of order, His universe is governed by structure and precision.
Because He is a loving Heavenly Father, this life operates by laws and boundaries.  And for good reason.

President George Albert Smith said:
There are two influences ever present in the world.  One is constructive and elevating and comes from our Heavenly Father; the other is destructive and debasing and comes from Lucifer.  We have our agency and make our own choice in life subject to these unseen powers.  There is a division line well defined that separates the Lord’s territory from Lucifer’s.  If we live on the Lord’s side of the line Lucifer cannot come there to influence us, but if we cross the line into his territory we are in his power.”
(Improvement Era, May 1935, 278)

The line between those who are on the Lord’s side and those who are not has been with us from the beginning.  Before the creation of this world, the war in heaven divided God’s children into two groups with two different loyalties: Christ’s and Satan’s.

Enter, opposition into the world: the dividing line between good and evil, light and dark, joy and misery.

Commandments and Covenants Protect
God loves us and wants us Home.  So, with Commandments He draws a line in the sand and says, “Do Not Cross This Line!  The other side is enemy territory.”  Then He places Covenants as signposts and guardrails, marking places of safety.

No wonder George Albert Smith said:
“If we live on the Lord’s side of the line Lucifer cannot come there to influence us.”

Covenants are not jail bars that oppress. Commandments don’t hold us back.  Boundaries are meant to fortify and guide our way…

Away from danger
Away from imprisonment
Away from misaligning ourselves with the Spirit
Away from disqualifying ourselves from blessings
Away from spiritual death

Parameters offer protection.  Now, most of you won’t cross the thick lines in the sand. Most of us have a strong sense of right and wrong, and for the most part, will not to be tempted to steal or murder or even cheat on our spouse.

So, why the blog post on Crossing the Line?

The Deceiver
Because Satan is smart.  He is a master of deception and diversion.  If he can’t get you to succumb to blatant evil, the adversary will try to coax you onto his side of the line by resorting to strategies that slowly wear you down and weaken your resolve.

And, frankly, he’s been up to these shenanigans with a few people I love.  Yep.  Some pretty special individuals have been tempted to forgo faith and cross the line.  Who knows, maybe you are about to do the same.  Maybe life is currently daring you to turn your back on beliefs.  For this reason, I am perching myself on my soapbox to hopefully lend a little perspective.

Don’t do it.  Our hikers, runners, and tourists will tell you – it’s too dangerous.

Here’s the thing, friends – if we can understand how Satan works – if we can identify his micro-tactics: how he manipulates thought, maneuvers behavior, and monopolizes emotion in the smallest ways – if we can understand that – then we’ve won half the battle and wont cross the line.  Shoot, if we could realize the extent to which the Deceiver distorts and falsifies, we wouldn’t even go near the slime ball’s arena.  We would stand firm in the safe zone, on the Lord’s side.

Nothing thrills Satan more than the current skepticism with which he is viewed today.  When people deny his existence or chalk up his works to the ills of society, he rubs his hands with glee.  After all, the more we doubt his influence, the more he can work without hindrance.

The Divider
You’ll find the definition of one of Satan’s names interesting.  The Greek word for devil is diabolos, which shares a root with the verb diaballein, which means “to split”.

The devil is a splitter, a divider, a wedge-driver.  He divided 1/3 of God’s children away from the Plan, and since then he has every intent of doing the same to you.
Dividing you from peace of mind,
Distancing you from happiness,
Alienating you from the Holy Spirit,
Isolating you from the love of family/friends,
Separating you from accomplishing your mission

And he’s good at what he does. So, how do we stop him? How do we prevent him from luring us across the line? Start by, 1) understanding how he works.  And, 2) realizing that you have help, heavenly help.  Even more, YOU have a a choice.

You Have a Choice

Wherefore, men are free according to the flesh; and all things are given them which are expedient unto man.  And they are free to choose liberty and eternal life, through the great Mediator of all men, or to choose captivity and death, according to the captivity and power of the devil; for he seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself.
2 Nephi 2:27

Henry Eyring said:
“You will need the help of heaven to keep the commandments.  You will need it more and more as the days go on.  Satan will expand the space that is not safe.  He will try every way he can to persuade you that there is no danger in trying to come as close as you can to that dividing line.  At the same time he is trying to persuade people that there really is no line at all.  Because he knows you know it is there, he will say to you, ‘Come closer to the line.’

“But you can bring the protective powers of heaven down on you by simply deciding to go toward the Savior… Satan will tell you, as he has done regularly for ages, that you will not be happy in safety, that you must come near his ground to live the happy life… [It will be] some beautifully packaged, cleverly advertised invitation to go into Satan’s territory.  It will be funny or pleasant or charming or glamorous; but remember, he wants you as miserable as he is himself.”
(BYU Speeches, Waiting Upon the Lord, Sept 30, 1990)

You cannot do battle with Satan on your own.  He is a fallen angel, a roaring lion, an equipped soldier, and an experienced fighter.  He is angry – angry because he knows that his time is short and that God’s victory is already secure.  He resents God’s goodness toward us and our worship of the Savior.

So, what do we do?


Pray always lest that wicked one have power in you, and remove you out of your place.
Doctrine and Covenants 93:49

Arm Yourself with God’s Word
Scriptural history reminds us of the battle taking place over our loyalties.  Reading God’s word regularly fills you with the Spirit and the Spirit fills you with truth, light, and discernment so that you cannot be deceived.

Kick the Bully to the Curb
When temptation lures us to cross a line, Jesus showed us how to deal with the adversary. When Satan tempted Him, there was no battle of wills, no clever repartee, no mulling it over in his mind, “wait, Lucifer, let me think about this a moment…”  No.  Just immediate dismissal.

Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him.
Matthew 4:10

See what Jesus did?  Immediate dismissal.  Then came the blessing: angels.  Angels ministered to him.  We can do the same.  Identify his tactic, This is Satan trying to get to me.  Then kick him out.  I’m not going to think those thoughts.  Not going to go there.  I’m not going to do that.  Get behind me!

The line was drawn long ago, dividing God’s children into two differing loyalties: those on Christ’s side and those who were not.  The battle of loyalties continues today.  Heavenly Father knew that sometimes the dividing line might get a little blurry, so He gave us the gospel with Commandments and Covenants – boundaries that act as signs and guardrails to warn us of danger and remind us where safe territories lay.

That’s how much He loves us and want us Home.

George Albert Smith said:
“By keeping the commandments of the Lord we are safe on His side of the line, but if we disobey His teachings we voluntarily cross into the zone of temptation and invite the destruction that is ever present there.  Knowing this, how anxious we should always be to live on the Lord’s side of the line.”
(Improvement Era, May 1935, 278)





They are starting to put ads on our blog. We do not approve these and are not getting any residuals whatsoever, so I apologize for the content. I’ll see what I can do about it.


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