Wow. So, thanks to a plug for my blog on the Mormon Times website, I've gotten a pretty good amount of views. I am incredibly grateful for that! But, it seems to kinda up the bar for me. I wrote something that received attention (which is way cool!), and now I feel pressed to write something really good to live up to my Nerd entries. Part of me considered doing another Gospel according to a Nerd entry, but I didn't want to overdo it (and frankly and pretty much out of ideas for that), so... Let's see what I can do!
In Luke 15, we see 3 parables given, that have a pretty common thread to them; they all deal with losing something of great importance, and finding it again. The first one we see is the parable of the lost sheep, where a man lost one of his sheep, and though it was just one of one hundred, he went off searching diligently until he found it, and rejoiced when he did. Now I'm not the biggest fan of sheep. They're kinda dumb and ugly and gross, but I would imagine that if these sheep were central to your livelihood, and if you spent as much time around them as this man did, you'd care a great deal about them, and would be very upset to have even one wander off, but incredibly joyful to have it back. The next parable is of a woman who loses a silver piece. The footnote to "piece" identifies is specifically as a drachma, which was a workers daily pay. That's a lot of money. Sure, she still has nine left, but ten is better than nine. She sweeps every corner of her house, looking and looking, until she finds it, and, like the Shepard, celebrates over finding it. The final parable given is the Prodigal Son, one of the best known parables. In it, a selfish son demands his inheritance, and leaves his father, brother, and home to live a riotous life. He soon realizes his mistakes when he gets so broke that it comes down to begging, or eating what the pigs eat. So, he decides that he'll return to his home, and offer to be a hired hand for his father. When he returns, his father runs out to meet him, hugs him, and puts shoes on his feet, a robe on him, and a ring on his finger. He then slaughters the best calf, and they have a large feast.
All three have closely linked meanings, but if you look at the details, you can see why Christ gave all three, rather than just summing it up into one: The sheep in the first one wandered off. Maybe he didn't mean to, maybe he was just misled, or curious, and misfortune struck in the way of him getting lost. The sheep was sought out and brought back to the fold. In the woman's case, through her own irresponsibility and lack of attention, she lost something very valuable to her. In searching for it, she found all the dust and cobwebs in her home, finding the dirties places and sweeping them out, making her home clean, then finding that which she cherished. In the Prodigal Son, the son willingly leaves, following his own desires and selfish wants, but then realizing the error of his ways, returns to what he knew was right.
These three exemplify many ways in which souls are lost from our Heavenly Father's fold. Some just wander off, out of curiosity, laziness, or a busy schedule. It's not that they're bad people, and that they're going against the church, they're just fall into unfortunate circumstances that take them away. Some people, however, lose sight of what matters most, through a worldly view and desires for something bigger and grander. They finally realize what wonderful thing they've lost, and in so searching for it, they discover all the dirty nooks and crannies of their souls, and clean it out, and in so doing find that which they hold most dear. And others, knowing full well what they have, willingly leave it in search of personal gratification and their own selfish desires. They often find themselves hitting rock bottom, and realize they have to go back to that life they abandoned if they want to be truly happy. What people in this situation often do is think that their Heavenly Father will be angry with them, and won't want them back, so they go hesitantly. They worry about judgments of others, and whether they'll actually be able to come back, but once they do, they realize that Heavenly Father isn't angry with them, and never was. He embraces them warmly, and welcomes them back into his fold.
We need always be aware those around us that are lost are still precious in the sight of God. He loves them all, just as He loves you and I, and we can help those souls return to the fold of our Heavenly Father, and if we do, we can rejoice right alongside Him over their return.