A Prayer in the Sand

“A Prayer in the Sand,” Ensign, Mar. 1998, 66–67

A Prayer in the Sand

On a beautiful summer afternoon I left with my wife, Donna, and our five young children to go to an old rock quarry in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We were hoping to find red pumice rocks we could use to landscape our yard. During the 25-mile drive we sang songs, visited, and felt content and close to each other.

After traveling the bumpy, dusty road to the rim of the quarry, we got out of the truck to discover that other people had had the same idea—there were no more pumice rocks to be found. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the fresh mountain air and being together as a family.

All too soon, the sun started to go down and the air became cool. We left the quarry, taking the road that led out to the highway.

After a few minutes, the truck rumbled around a broad curve that suddenly led us right into a pile of drifted sand. The truck’s wheels spun slowly and helplessly as we tried to get out of the drift. We were stuck! I directed my family to gather rabbitbrush, small rocks, and anything else we could find to place under the rear tires. But it didn’t help; the movement of the wheels just pushed the rocks down into the sand. I tried again and again with no success. My frustration mounted as the dusk turned into darkness.

I told Donna and the children of my plan to walk to the highway, catch a ride to the nearest town, and get help. I explained it was the only way to get out of our fix and that the sooner I got started the sooner we could return home. But in my mind I kept thinking, How long will it be before I can return with help? Will my family have to spend the night here? Will the gas in the truck last through the night to keep them warm?

The tense, worried look on Donna’s face betrayed her similar fears. She pleadingly asked if there wasn’t something else we could do to free the pickup. She also expressed her fear of waiting in the dark, lonely quarry with five small children. I was torn. I felt I couldn’t leave my family, but I could see no other solution.

“Daddy, we haven’t prayed about it yet!” said our five-year-old.

To my surprise I realized that, indeed, we hadn’t thought to pray about it as a family. I was humbled by the simple words of a child. Yet it still seemed impossible to me that we could find a way out of our situation without getting to a telephone and calling for help.

I knelt on the running board of the pickup with my hands folded on the seat and offered a prayer aloud for our little family. During the prayer, an image of white boards came to my mind. With the image came an understanding that I was to use boards from a collapsed storage shed I had seen about a half mile back to free our truck from the sand. Relief and gratitude filled my heart and spread to my family as I told them of the solution.

I left my family in the truck and went into the darkness in search of the boards. After I had been gone for a long time, my family knelt in prayer again to ask Heavenly Father for my safe return. Donna felt impressed to turn on the truck’s lights and honk the horn. She was not a minute too soon. Unable to see in the darkness after gathering an armful of boards, I had been walking in the wrong direction.

I followed the lights and the horn back to the truck, where I placed boards solidly under each tire. Confidently I started the truck, shifted into low gear, and drove out of the sand to squeals of joy and delight from my family.

Our hearts full of gratitude, we thanked our Heavenly Father and drove peacefully home, with a heightened understanding that God is always near and that he hears and answers our prayers.

Illustrated by Robert Anderson McKay