Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Lost Sheep

A few weeks ago I was converting a chicken barn into a sheep barn. During the day we would move them outside and in the night we would put them back in. On this one occasion when we went to put them back inside two gates had been left open. Like so many different animals they all run for freedom. Sometimes there are some that get away. That day a few of them got away! After a while and we got most herded together heading into the barn the others would come one by one. There was one last sheep who kept wandering and enjoying its open space. After most were in the barn it realized it was the only one not with the group. It worked its way towards the rest, but there were barriers that kept it from being reunited with the others. It tried many different routes to get back to the group whether it meant pushing on the panels which didn't move or trying to move other obstacles. After a while it realized it was not going to be able to be with the rest on its own because it had wandered and put obstacles in its way. At this point we were able to walk up and open the gate to allow it to reunite with the rest. 

We can look at this in soo many ways. This experience made me think of the gospel as we always talk about "LOST SHEEP" in our areas. 

As we grow up our parents teach and help direct us in our lives. We get to a certain point where we go out on our own and learn. Somethings we truly have to learn by ourselves. We get out on our own in total freedom; some go wild as they call it and experience different things. Others stay close to the things they already know. Some go and experience immorality, drugs, alcohol, etc... Some won't ever go and try these things. Either way we can't judge them. Some come back to the fold and others wander for many years, sometimes the rest of their life. 

Why do some come back when they are having so much fun? Some come back because they learn that fun is not actually fun. Others come back because of another who was willing to put their friendship on the line to share the gospel. Others come back just because. Maybe something happens in their life which brings them back. We need to receive them with open arms. Receive them as the Master Jesus Christ will receive you.

Our Savior taught us in Luke 15 verses 1-7 the parable of the lost sheep,
 1 Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him.
 And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.
 3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying,
 What man of you, having an 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?
 And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
 And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.
 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

 Like the sheep in my experience above certain obstacles were put in its way that had to be moved for it to return. In our lives we sin which are our obstacles that prevent us from returning to the full presence of the companionship of the Holy Ghost. We must repent of these sins so that we can receive the fulness of the Gospel and all that comes with it. As we do this we return to a presence of happiness and a knowledge which is not given from man, but from Him. 
 Jesus Christ would do anything He could to gather His Lost Sheep. The Savior voluntarily paid the ultimate price for all mankind that we may be received through repentance back into the Gates of Heaven. 

When we physically get to see Him we will have the opportunity to touch His hands which were pierced for our sins on the Cross of Calvary and in the Garden of Gethsemane. In John 15:13, Christ says, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."

 “As surely as the rescue of those in need was the general conference theme of October 1856, so too is it the theme of this conference and last conference and the one to come next spring. It may not be blizzards and frozen-earth burials that we face this conference, but the needy are still out there—the poor and the weary, the discouraged and downhearted, those “[falling] away into [the] forbidden paths” we mentioned earlier, and multitudes who are “kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.” They are all out there with feeble knees, hands that hang down, and bad weather setting in. They can be rescued only by those who have more and know more and can help more. And don’t worry about asking, “Where are they?” They are everywhere, on our right hand and on our left, in our neighborhoods and in the workplace, in every community and county and nation of this world. Take your team and wagon; load it with your love, your testimony, and a spiritual sack of flour; then drive in any direction. The Lord will lead you to those in need if you will but embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ that has been taught in this conference. Open your heart and your hand to those trapped in the twenty-first century’s equivalent of Martin’s Cove and Devil’s Gate. In doing so we honor the Master’s repeated plea on behalf of lost sheep and lost coins and lost souls.” Jeffrey R. Holland

I challenge us all in this New Year to take a new stand on where we are in our lives. Where we are heading and where we plan to be in the future. Are you gonna be the Lost Sheep or are you gonna help to bring those Lost Sheep back into the fold?  

I know that as you do as the Savior would have you do, you will find the peace, strength and help that you stand in need of. He will lead you to the things which you earnestly plead on your knees for.