More than 40 years ago, a group of us were exploring the lava caves in northern California. We split into pairs and set a time to regroup again in the sunlight. With our flashlights off, the total darkness seemed almost overwhelming.
My partner and I ventured through small tunnels into caverns of various sizes until we heard the sound of running water. We worked through crevices and openings, fixated upon the sound, anxious to discover its source. Eventually we came to an opening through which only I could fit. We decided that I would wiggle through while he waited out my adventure and anticipated the report on what we thought to be a good-sized stream.
After a few more tight squeezes between small chambers, I could hear the water clearly. It seemed to be just beyond the low, horizontal opening ahead of me. On my stomach, with my arms outstretched, I pushed further toward the enticing goal.
Suddenly there was nothing under my hands but air. I could hear the water running directly below the cliff over which my hands and forearms now hung. I managed to flick a small stone off the edge and listened intently until the plink let me know there was a significant drop to the bottom. Now to report my finding to my friend.
However, as a result of my determination to get where I was, I had not considered the consequences. Not only was I in a narrow space, but the stone above sloped downward in such a way that I had wedged myself progressively tighter as I thrust forward while flat on my stomach. Without anything to push against with my hands, and with nothing in the loose lava soil for my feet to pull against, I was really stuck. Calling for help was not an option—my body filled the access space, my companion couldn’t get through the openings, and no one else would know which path I had taken to get to where I now was. Only Heavenly Father could get me out of this mess.
After sincere prayer, I felt impressed to not give in to panic and to keep doing the only thing I could do: dig around with my toes for something stable enough to pull me backwards. With significant time, lots of prayer, and hard work, I finally was able to dig my toes in farther and inch backward until I could also use my hands. Once free, I felt an immediate sense of relief and gratitude accompanied by a profound assurance that Heavenly Father knew and cared for me.
Just as I became trapped in the rock so many years ago, many individuals become trapped by the adversary. They are beckoned by something that entices them to ignore the safety of proper companionship, to want something without weighing the consequences, and to forget that they really know better.
The Book of Mormon reveals the Savior’s plan for obtaining peace, salvation, and exaltation. In these same scriptures, Satan’s plan to deter us from happiness is also exposed. He strives to have us trapped “in misery, like unto himself” (2 Ne. 9:9).
King Benjamin taught that we must think through what we choose to do and consider the consequences of our choices if we are to avoid the grasp of the devil. He stated:
“I cannot tell you all the things whereby ye may commit sin; for there are … so many that I cannot number them.
“But … if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God, and continue in the faith … ye must perish” (Mosiah 4:29–30).
In order to perish, we must allow the devil to work his plan in our lives. In order to prosper in the plan of happiness, we must “remember that there is no other way nor means whereby man can be saved, only through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ” (Hel. 5:9).
Whether we like it or not, our choices and their consequences are inseparably connected. We are free to choose; however, the results of our choices also will be ours (see Alma 42:26–28).
To prevail over the devil’s strategies and temptations, we are counseled to pray sincerely (see Hel. 3:27), to remember what we have been taught (see Hel. 5:6–10), and to “lay hold upon the word of God” (Hel. 3:29). Doing this, we can “divide asunder all the cunning and the snares and the wiles of the devil” and stay above “that everlasting gulf of misery which is prepared to engulf the wicked” (Hel. 3:29).
As Helaman told his sons, repentance frees us from the sins that produce a seemingly trapped condition (see Hel. 5:10–11). Helaman taught his sons to build “upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, … which is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall.” Then, he said, the devil “shall have no power over you to drag you down to the gulf of misery and endless wo” (Hel. 5:12).
Helaman taught his sons well. A critical lesson for us to learn is that “they did remember [their father’s] words; and therefore they went forth, keeping the commandments of God” (Hel. 5:14). To fortify themselves against the temptations of the devil, they and other humble members of the Church “did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God” (Hel. 3:35).
Let us be wise as we pursue life’s adventures. The Book of Mormon teaches clearly what we must do to recognize and to overcome the temptations and snares of the evil one. Through the grace of God, the devil’s strategies to defeat us will fail as we commit to the Savior and follow His gospel.
Using items in your home such as chairs and blankets, create a tunnel or “cave” that becomes smaller and narrower. Let family members crawl through it. Relate Elder Hicken’s cave experience and discuss how it relates to being trapped in Satan’s snares.
As you read the first four paragraphs together, invite family members to list the decisions Elder Hicken made that led him to the cliff’s edge. Share an experience when a single decision led to a series of events with either good or bad consequences. How do we make correct choices? Testify of the importance of striving to make right choices.
Invite each family member to explain a scripture used in this article. How can the truths in these verses help us overcome Satan’s snares? Share an experience or testimony about a time when one of these principles helped you prevail over Satan’s traps.