by Jed Weyland

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    One minute we were big, independent college men. The next, we were trapped and desperate for help.

    We were free! We’d had a hard week of classes and felt like we deserved a break. It was a beautiful winter evening in Rock Canyon, and we were determined to enjoy it to the fullest.

    Four of us had decided on a whim to get away from the pressures of college life by taking an excursion in the snow. It would be our first camp-out without any adviser or leader. We felt pretty independent. Our friends were surprised at our plans in light of all the snow that had fallen that weekend. We ignored them when they said we were crazy.

    Jared and Derek had nearly finished the snow cave, our home for the night. We were actually doing it! Without any help from adults, or anyone else, we were making it work.

    After cooking some hot dogs and having a long animated talk around the fire, we were ready to retire. I went in first. It seemed a bit crowded, and I wondered how we would fit four people into the cave. Pete and Jared followed. Derek was next.

    Just as Derek was almost all the way in, the cave collapsed on us! I wasn’t sure what had happened since I was lying on my side facing the wall.

    Luckily, the part of the cave that was above my head and chest hadn’t caved in. Pete wasn’t as lucky. Heavy snow was on his chest. I could tell that he was having trouble breathing. Peter’s voice let me know that the snow hadn’t covered his face.

    None of us could do much since our bodies were pinned down. We were stuck. Every time we tried to move around, the ceiling would shift a bit. Every time this happened, I would ask Peter if he was still all right. The snow ceiling was getting closer and closer to his face. There was nothing that any of us could do. We were trapped!

    Peter was the one who thought of it first. We needed to pray. We told our Father in Heaven that we needed his help. We couldn’t make it alone.

    After praying, Jared looked up at the ceiling. He noticed something he hadn’t noticed before, a small opening. He had to struggle, but he eventually got his arm out of his bag so he could reach for the hole. He scraped snow from off of the collapsed ceiling and threw it out the opening. His hands were numb by the time he had freed himself.

    Once Jared was out, he dug Derek out using the small shovel we had left outside the cave. Derek got to work getting Peter out while Jared warmed his freezing hands. With Peter free, I was the only one left in the cave with my legs still pinned down. The cave was no longer hanging over my head, so I felt practically free.

    Someone suggested that we each say a prayer of thanksgiving. There, next to the collapsed snow cave, we thanked Father in Heaven and acknowledged that we couldn’t have made it without his help.

    I learned an important lesson from that experience. Even though I seek independence, I don’t ever want to be independent of my Father in Heaven. Without his patient care, I might not be here today. I learned I always need his help and guiding hand.

    Illustrated by Paul Mann