Safe and Secure in God's Arms

Safe and Secure in God's Arms

Her son, trapped deep beneath the earth. Her faith, needing to go even deeper.

Logan Eliasen and Emma in Wye Cave in Maquoketa Caves State Park

The phone rang at 2:30 in the morning. “Maybe that’s him,” my husband, Lonny, said. Our 20-year-old son, Logan, had gone caving with four friends from college in nearby Maquoketa Caves State Park, and he had promised that he would call. Logan always checked in.

Lonny pushed back the covers and I followed him to the kitchen. He grabbed the phone and I listened in at his side. It was one of Logan’s friends. I could hear every word: “Logan’s trapped in the cave. Rescue workers are here. But you need to come. He’s been in there for a while.”

An image exploded in my mind: Logan trapped in the dark, maybe unable to move, maybe worse. I put my hands over my ears—I couldn’t bear it—and bolted out the back door. The bricks in the patio were cold on my bare feet, but I had to get away from that phone.

Exploring caves is popular around here. Lonny first took Logan spelunking when he was just a boy. My son knew the caves, knew the narrow tunnels, the tight turns, the deepest caverns. Every year he went back with his friends to explore them.

Lonny came outside and put his arms around me. “I’ve got to go. Best you stay here with the kids until we know more,” he said. Our four younger boys were still sleeping. “I’ll keep you posted.” He handed me the phone and led me inside to the room where I’d homeschooled the kids.

Books were stacked on the table, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, A Wrinkle in Time. Gifts Logan had bought for his brothers years ago at the library’s used book sale.

There on the shelf was the pencil holder he’d made me when he was six, a tin can sponged with orange paint. And the antique Seth Thomas clock he wound every morning.

I looked at it and started to count the hours. How long had Logan been trapped? Six, seven hours already?

The news spread. Friends arrived. They sat with me, comforted me, prayed with me. Then came my dad. I fell into his arms. “Logan’s a good kid,” he said. “He’s got brains and faith. That’ll see him through.”

My Bible was on the table, open to the psalm I’d been studying the day before, Psalm 139.

If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me. Your right hand will hold me fast.

If only I could hold on to that thought, if I could hold on to it for Logan and for me.

The teapot whistled, birds sang outside, morning broke. A serene blue sky promising a beautiful May day. The other children woke up and wandered in. I told them about their brother, doing all I could to hide my fears.

“I’m going to go there now,” I said. “I want to be there when Logan gets out.” But how soon would that be? And what kind of shape would he be in then? If I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

Dad drove me to the park. We parked and walked to the cave. A command center had been set up, dozens of emergency vehicles. Ambulances, fire trucks, police cars, EMT trucks from all over the area. A steady stream of men and women came and went from the mouth of the cave.

I spotted Lonny at the top of a hill on a path that cut through the trees. I knew his gait, his baseball cap, but not the way he clenched his jaw.

I ran to him and he held me close for the second time in hours. “It’s going to be a while,” he said. “They’re using air chisels, but they can only go in one at a time. Twenty minutes a shift. There’s not enough oxygen for more.”

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