Sometimes, each for individual reasons, disciples of Christ can become lost. We may become estranged from God, turning our backs on Him and running out into the night, as it were.
As if we could find a better offer out there.
But other times, we don’t get completely lost like that. Just a little lost—stepping off the path to explore other options a mite. Just in case we can pick up a few things to take with us back to the strait and narrow. And maybe we aren’t so quick to get back on the path. Maybe we try to walk in the same general direction as the strait and narrow but meander and take our time.
I’ve known people and known about others who had made covenants with God and then wandered. They relocated with the hope that no one would know about their prior association with the Lord’s Church. In a sense, they had turned from Him and hoped He wouldn’t find them.
But He doesn’t forget such, and He knows exactly where they are, just as He knows where His sheep are who have stayed in the flock and in the fold.
Of course, in the Parable of the Vanished Daughter, Albert didn’t know where his sister had gone. But he stopped at nothing to find her.
The scriptures include stories of people who had become lost and whom the Lord found.
Alma’s father, also named Alma, was the prophet and high priest among a branch of Israelites. Alma the younger, as he is often called, rebelled against his family and the truth, and he spent his time undermining everything his father was doing among their people. But in answer to the senior Alma’s prayers for his son to come to a knowledge of the truth, the Lord sent an angel to rebuke the younger Alma and put a stop to the harm he was causing. God knew exactly where Alma was and when he was ready to be found, and therefore He knew where and when to send the angel to tell him, “Seek no more to destroy the church of God, even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off” (Mosiah 27:8–16).
On a journey between Jerusalem and Galilee, Jesus opted to cut through Samaria rather than avoid it like most other Jews did. Why? Because someone there was lost and needed Him to find her. At Jacob’s well, He spoke with a Samaritan woman and taught her that He was the one that Israel waited for. As far as we know, she and the people of her town were the reason Jesus chose that route back to Galilee. (John 4:3–26.)
As in the parable about Eva and Albert, being found by the Lord is only the beginning. Alma had to repent and change his life after being rebuked by the angel (and he did change). After the Samaritan woman recognized Jesus’s identity as the Messiah, she had to alter her life to conform with His standards for His covenant people—to, as He gently admonished the woman taken in adultery, “go, and sin no more” (John 8:11). The rest of her story, whether she did so or not, is as yet untold.
Jesus has the power to find us wherever we are, wherever we’ve wandered or hidden. He didn’t suffer for our sins only to sit idly by when we drift. He cannot and will not forget us, for He continually carries the reminders of the price of our redemption (Isaiah 49:15–16). We may lose ourselves, but we are not lost to Him. The cost was too dear for Him to give us up.
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