Lost in a Whiteout


All we could see was swirling white snow. How could we find our way down the mountain in a blizzard?

The view from the top of the mountain should have been breathtaking. But in a whiteout at 12,000 feet (3,600 m) above sea level, the only thing we saw was the faint silhouette of our disoriented guide catching his breath a few feet away. The blizzard winds had obscured our path down the mountainside, while all around us sheer cliffs dropped down to unknown depths. The stinging snow whipped our frozen faces, and the roaring storm muted the question escaping from my friend’s chapped lips: “Which way down?”

Lured by an advertisement placed in the student center at Brigham Young University, my friends and I had signed up for the Mt. Nebo expedition months earlier. The photograph, which featured climbers with crampons and ice picks, promised awe-inspiring scenery and unparalleled adventure. But upon reaching the summit of one of Utah’s tallest mountains, our picturesque fantasy gave way to a terrifying reality. A blind step in the wrong direction could be fatal.

Although the weather forecast had been favorable, the weather was getting worse. Beginning our descent a few yards at a time, neither we nor our guide knew the direction we should take. We trudged through waist-deep snow, searching frantically for some sign of familiarity. The thick whiteness had erased our landmarks, and our tracks made hiking up the slope had vanished. Our hopes of getting off that peak safely were disappearing. It was time to ask the Lord for help.

No vocal prayer could have been heard by mortal ears above the menacing winds that day. With strength expiring and morale turning cold, I offered my silent plea to God: “Please help us down this mountain. Please help us see the way.”

As I opened my eyes on that snowy slope, an unusual calmness filled the frosty air. The sky swirled above us. The clouds had lifted! I gazed heavenward in gratitude to an omnipotent Creator who knows and hears His children.

For 30 seconds, the storm clouds parted. A patch of blue appeared through the thinning mists, and the sun illuminated a fantastic landscape below and the path that would lead us home. Too exhausted to speak, we stood in stunned silence when we saw our location. The slope we had mistakenly descended led to an abrupt dropoff on three sides. We had barely corrected our course when the sky clouded over again.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10), the Master speaks to all who seek refuge and strength in times of trouble. “Though the earth may be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; though the waters thereof roar and be troubled, … the Lord of hosts is with us” (Ps. 46:2–3, 11).

Through the marvelous power of prayer, Jesus Christ calms the storms in our lives. He opens our eyes when we are blind. He shows us the way when we are lost. He hears our prayers when we have no voice. I am grateful to the Lord for answering my prayer that day and always, for bringing me home through all life’s storms.

[photos] Photography courtesy of Bremen Leak