God has things that get lost as well, although because He is perfect, I'm sure He doesn't go through quite the range of emotions that we do. When I say that God has "things" that get lost, I'm really referring to His children. We get lost, and He feels sadness about that. But even though we are lost, in a sense, He still knows exactly where we are. He just has to wait for us to use our agency to find our way back to Him.
In my New Testament studies this week, I studied a lot of parables. Three of them deal with lost things and offer three different ways that we get lost from the path that leads back to God.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
"How did that sheep get lost? He was not rebellious. If you follow the comparison, the lamb was seeking its livelihood in a perfectly legitimate manner, but either stupidly, perhaps unconsciously, it followed the enticement of the field, the prospect of better grass until it got out beyond the fold and was lost.
The lamb took his "eyes off the prize", so to speak. He focused his gaze on things other than the Shepherd. Maybe he started by stealing a few glances of the grass on the other side of the fence, which turned into staring hungrily at the grass, which then led to sampling the grass, and before he knew it, he had lost sight of the Shepherd completely.
Elder Joseph B Wirthlin (1917-2008), an Apostle of Jesus Christ, shared another take on this parable and who the lost sheep could represent.
"Some [children of God] are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don't belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don't fit in. They conclude that they are not needed. ...
Who's been one of these little lambs at one point or another? I have definitely felt a little of both of these "lost lamb scenarios" in my life. But here's the good news. The Good Shepherd, AKA the Savior of the World, knows exactly where we are, at all times. We are never lost to Him and He is always there, waiting for us to call out, just like a little lost lamb cries out to its mother.
We can return to the arms of that Good Shepherd who loves us wholly and completely, no matter where our wanderings have taken us.
The Parable of the Lost Piece of Silver
Going back to President McKay's insights on these three parables, he describes what the lost coin may represent:
"In this case the thing lost was not in itself responsible. The one who had been trusted with that coin had, through carelessness or neglect, mislaid it or dropped it. ...Our charge is not only coins, but living souls of children, youth, and adults. They are our charges."
Here we see that the coin was lost through negligence on the owner's part. We also see that the woman in the parable represents any one of us who have responsibility to watch over and care for someone else--spiritually and physically. Whether you are a parent, or have stewardship over others through leadership roles, you are charged with being responsible for loving and teaching those whom you have stewardship over. President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910-2008) shared how we should face this responsibility of loving and teaching others:
“There must be warmth in the work of the Lord. There must be friendship. There must be love unfeigned. There must be appreciation and thanks expressed. There must be constant nurturing with the good word of God. All of these are small things, so easy to do, and they make so great a difference." (“There Must Be Messengers,”Ensign, Oct. 1987, 5).
It's about love and friendship, respect and charity. It's about expressing gratitude. As President Hinckley said, these are all small things and easy to do, but they make a huge difference in the lives of those whom are feeling a little lost and unloved.
The Parable of the Prodigal Son
"The parable of the prodigal son teaches us much about the nature and attributes of our Father in Heaven. Like the father in the parable, God will not control us, keep us from straying, or keep us from making selfish, foolish errors. Yet His love never diminishes. He is so anxious to have us return that He will run to us when we are still “a great way off” (Luke 15:20). He knows us so well that He can recognize our better selves when no one else can. Each of us, male or female, will be able to recognize something of ourselves in each of the sons in the parable.
We are Never Truly Lost to the Lord
The Shepherd knows His sheep.
He knows them, loves them, and welcomes them back when they stray.
May we always strive to use our agency to make choices that will lead us back to our Father in Heaven, but...if we mess up, if we make choices that lead us away from Him instead, may we always remember how the Lord feels about things that are lost. He has a plan for their salvation and redemption, and for that, I am truly grateful.
I am loving my second chance at life.
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