Devon taught a good lesson on what we do when others don't accept our invitation to come to Christ, are numbered among the lost sheep or let go of the iron rod. Whatever metaphor makes sense to you for your situation, these ideas may help.
Devon's young son shared what he learned in Primary recently and the conversation went something like this.
He showed her a picture of a sheep.
When she asked what it meant he said, "We are all sheep!"
"And what happened to the sheep?"
"They were lost."
"Who is the shepherd?"
"And what will he do?"
"He will find us!"
And He will! But we are asked to help "feed my sheep".
Mists of darkness
In another familiar story we feel with Lehi in his dream of the Tree of Life the heartache of seeing a family member get lost in the mists of darkness or let go the iron rod that leads to the fruit or love of God, that is "precious above all".
What are the mists of darkness generally? Nephi tells us in 1 Nephi 12:17,
And the mists of darkness are the temptations of the devil, which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men, and leadeth them away into broad roads, that they perish and are lost.What are some "mists of darkness" in our day?
Philosophies of men, anti-mormon information especially on the internet, hurt feelings, hang-ups, doubts and unanswered questions, mental illness, time/schedules, just drifting away, abuse, crime, drugs, TV, pornography, social media, music, feelings of inadequacies, guilt, insecurities, individual personalities.
It's quite a range of distractions and out-and-out evil that we and our loved ones can choose.
The point is we don't need to judge. We often don't know what is going on in someone's life that causes or effects the decisions they make.
What should we do instead? Just love them.
What we can do
Elder Holland in a talk titled "Because She Is a Mother" encourages us as parents of wayward children:
President Joseph F. Smith pled, “Oh! God, let me not lose my own.” 8 That is every parent’s cry, and in it is something of every parent’s fear. But no one has failed who keeps trying and keeps praying. You have every right to receive encouragement and to know in the end your children will call your name blessed, just like those generations of foremothers before you who hoped your same hopes and felt your same fears.
What do you do, or have seen others do when worry or grief for our friends and family overcome us? What can we do to help ourselves and them?
- Respect their agency
- Turn to God, turn them over to Him
- Remember that they were God's before they were ours and He knows them best
- Show unconditional love
- Resist judging
- Absolve ourselves of guilt
- Take care of yourselves first
- Never give up hope
- Understand that temple covenants and promises will be fulfilled
- Bear testimony in unconventional ways
- Know that it's okay to grieve
- Remember that the atonement can heal you and them
John K. Carmack in an excellent conference talk titled When Our Children Go Astray seeks to comfort and gives very practical steps we can take. [Well worth reading again!]. He reminds us:
In 1929 Elder Orson F. Whitney of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
“You parents of the wilful and the wayward! Don’t give them up. Don’t cast them off. They are not utterly lost. The Shepherd will find his sheep. They were his before they were yours—long before he entrusted them to your care; and you cannot begin to love them as he loves them. They have but strayed in ignorance from the Path of Right, and God is merciful to ignorance. Only the fulness of knowledge brings the fulness of accountability. Our Heavenly Father is far more merciful, infinitely more charitable, than even the best of his servants, and the Everlasting Gospel is mightier in power to save than our narrow finite minds can comprehend” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1929, 110).Don't give up. Don't cast them off
Heavenly Father is far more merciful...and mightier to save than we.
So yes, Maddox, He will find us, all of us!