The freshly fallen, frost-kissed snow crunched under our snowshoes like cornflakes that had spilled on a kitchen floor. Each step forward was difficult, even with snowshoes, as we sunk many inches beneath the snow line.
That particular day, my husband and I had decided to venture out to the mountains and snowshoe to a beautiful mountain lake. We had been to the lake many times previously so we were excited to go back and feel the peace and familiarity that we had enjoyed there in the past.
Upon arrival at the trailhead, we found the snow much deeper than expected and almost impossible to traverse because of its thick upper layer. As we started out on the trail, we immediately wondered if we were going to be successful and considered turning back. Even though we were familiar with the trail, it was completely buried and not recognizable.
There is a trail
Just as we were about to turn around, we noticed a single trail off to the side. It was footprints of someone who had snowshoed in before us. We immediately gravitated to the footprints and began to follow them toward our destination. Before too long, we found that we had climbed far enough that we could see the lake. We had not followed the regular trail, but by following those footprints we had made it. We were so happy to have accomplished our goal and expressed appreciation for that initial snowshoer as we ate our delicious peanut butter sandwiches.
On our way out, just as we reached the crest of the hill, we met two women who were coming to the lake as well. They were so exuberant in their appreciation of us for breaking the trail for them. They claimed that they could not have done it without our trail. We explained that we had felt the same for whomever had gone in before us.
Our Saviour blazed the trail for us
Reflecting upon our experience, I have realized that our Saviour is like that first snowshoer. He has gone before us and “broken trail” for us. He has led the way for us by His example and through the Atonement. He knows the way and has previously experienced all things that we endure. He tells us, “I will go before you and be your rearward; and I will be in your midst” (Doctrine and Covenants 49:27). Through following in His footsteps and emulating Him in our thoughts, words, and deeds, our difficulties and ‘snow covered paths’ will be easier and more possible to traverse.
In a much more extreme instance than our snowshoe adventure, Alma and his people, in the Book of Mormon, found themselves being subject to the Lamanites in the land of Amulon. The scriptures tell us that “great were their afflictions” (Mosiah 24:10). They were mired in difficulty and felt hopeless like we did as we began our snowshoe adventure. Surely, they would have turned back if that had been an option. But they knew they could count on their Saviour. So, they looked to Him for help. They “did pour out their hearts to him; and he did know the thoughts of their hearts” (Mosiah 24:12).
Their answer came differently than they expected, just as we found an unexpected snowshoe trail. As we further read, “And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord” (Mosiah 24:15
We still have to navigate the path, whatever it may look like for us individually, but our Saviour is there to break the trail and then accompany us on it as we receive strength to bear our burdens and continue forward. He knows the way and He IS the way.
Our adventure into the beautiful mountain lake that crisp, snowy day has been a powerful reminder to me of the importance of following Him, letting Him lead, and trusting that His path, though sometimes different than what I had been planned, will take me exactly where I need to go.