Both my boys were obedient little boys. Not that they came that way—it took a lot of effort and consistent training because they both had Ward blood in them, but eventually I never had to worry about taking them anywhere. Two year old Lucas followed along as I traipsed from store to store looking for—well, I don’t even remember now. I had Nathan in one arm, a diaper bag on the other, and my purse over one shoulder, so there was no hand to hold on to Lucas. He was usually right by my side, and if he suddenly disappeared, I looked back and he had just lagged a bit as we went by a particularly eye-catching display.
Then, just as we left one of the anchor stores on the far side of the mall, and stepped into the open area, I looked down and he wasn’t there, nor anywhere close. My heart plummeted, my stomach heaved, and my mind screamed his name before I could even get it out of my mouth. I ran back into that store, and there ten feet inside, he was standing by a display. What had caught his interest I don’t know--I doubt I ever knew. I called his name and he looked at me and smiled and came running. Me? I knelt on the floor and somehow with a squirmy four month old and a diaper bag and a purse, I managed to wrap him up in my arms and hug him so tightly that he started to pull away.
“You need to be careful to stay with Mommy, okay?” I managed with a slight catch in my throat, and he nodded happily. On we went to do the necessary shopping, but my eye was on him far better than it had been before.
I doubt very many of you have not had something similar happen to you. It is, perhaps, the worst feeling in the world to think your child might be lost.
It amazes me when people do not have that same horrible feeling when their child’s soul is lost. How can you not run around calling his name and asking people for help? How can you not agonize about it? I want to share with you two wonderful examples should you ever need them—which I pray neither you nor I ever do.
We have spoken with the lost child of a close friend more than once, offered to study the Bible, and just conversed about life in general at other times. She appreciates everything we try to do for her child, whether it works or not. She has even told her child, when that child was mildly disgruntled about one conversation, “Isn’t it wonderful that they care so much?” which effectively put that problem to rest.
I keep in contact with the child of another friend. That child is not amenable to spiritual discussions these days, but he knows I will say something every time anyway, and probably because of his good parents, he accepts my overtures in a friendly way, tolerant when I leave him with a statement like, “You know what you need to do.” She has told me she doesn’t care what I say to her child, “Just please keep saying something.”
Neither one of these parents allow their children to complain in their presence about the ways we approach them. Neither one of them blames us nor anyone else for the decisions their adult children have made, and their children know that too. I carry great hopes for both of those children, and for those grieving parents. I feel like their lost children will indeed be “found” some day, partly because of the attitude their parents have managed to keep throughout the whole ordeal.
If you have a lost child, follow their example. As long as you allow that child to blame someone besides himself, he will never see the need for repentance. As long as you allow her to make excuses, whether justified or not, she will think everyone else is at fault, not her.
When I lost Lucas for those few minutes, I didn’t care who helped find him, or what I looked or sounded like as I went running and hollering back into that store. I just wanted my baby safe and sound. Can you imagine someone saying, “No! I don’t want you to look for my child?”
Your child may be standing right in front of you, but if his soul is lost, he might as well be a helpless toddler lost at the mall. Do what you need to do, and accept the help of others without hamstringing them. I lost my little boy once. I don’t want to ever go through that again, but if I do, rest assured, I will be calling you for help to find him, and I won’t care a bit how you go about it.
But the father said to his servants, 'Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.' And they began to celebrate, Luke 15:22-24.