You Cannot Force Others “To Be Found!”


Many years ago, before the advent of “soft” contacts, I wore the old fashion “hard” lens. These lens had a tendency to “pop” out of your eye if you had a sudden blow to the head or when you took them out of your eyes at the end of the day. Once while wrestling with one of my kids on a carpeted living room floor one of my lens was jarred loose. I spent an hour looking for the lost lens.  I searched and searched.  I combed the carpet but to no avail. In desperation I took out the vacuum and vacuumed the entire living room carpet. After so doing, I emptied the contents of the bag onto newspaper.  Much to my joy I found the lens. It was intact and with a little water and cleaning it was as good as new. It’s amazing what you will resort to when you want to find something bad enough.

Another time I was leaning over the bathroom sink at the end of the day and went through the ritual of removing my hard lens. In order to get a hard lens out you had to pull the corner of your eye and blink hard and it would pop out into your waiting hand. On this occasion my lens bounced off the palm of my hand and fell onto the counter top, or so I thought. I looked and looked for the lens on the bathroom counter top but to no avail. I looked in the sink, on the floor and carefully examined and removed every item on the counter top. Still no lens! I was so perplexed. Where could it have gone. It bothered me all night till I got ready for bed. As I started to brush my teeth, I squirted toothpaste on my toothbrush and to my great surprise and joy out came the lens. It had lodged itself on the un-capped toothpaste.  It had formed a perfect “dome” on the exposed toothpaste and was virtually invisible, hidden by the color of the paste. I learned from my “lost lens” experiences, that no matter how hard you search, there is always someplace that you have missed.

I think we are all familiar with the parables of the Savior that parallels my “lost lens.”

“What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? (Luke 15:4)

“…what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? (Luke 15:8)

And of course, found in the same chapter of Luke is the story of the well-known “Prodigal Son”. Now the joy I felt in finding my lens, or the women in finding her lost coin, or even the shepherd with his lamb, pales in comparison to the joy of helping a lost brother or sister come back to the fold of Christ. Luke recorded later in his gospel:

“For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Our mission is to assist the “Son of man” in seeking and saving those that are lost. This is done in many ways. It is done at home, at work, at church, but more importantly it is done through the constant living of the commandment to “love our neighbor as thyself.”

Sometimes finding the lost one can be discouraging. Note in the parable of the coin and in my example of the lens, both are inanimate objects; or in the case of a sheep, at least a willing participant. In attempting to find lost ones there are some individuals that don’t want to be found, or rescued. In fact when they see you they run as fast as they can away from you. They are “running from the searchers.”  Others are drowning and when you throw them a life ring they respectfully push it away: again and again. Still others will do you physical harm if you attempt to be their personal “savior.”

Moral agency is a gift from God our Father. You cannot force others to be found.  You can only provide help and support.  Out of duty and love we should be searching for the lost ones. But it is out of respect that we should honor those who choose not to return with us to the fold.  Let us be both diligent and respectful in our search.

“And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!” (D&C 18:15). I might add, if no one returns with us at all, we will still have done our duty!


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