Sunday, August 3, 2014

I Was Lost, But Now…

At one point in the Savior’s earthly ministry he taught the people three parables emphasizing the importance of seeking for those that are lost. The first parable is of the lost sheep. He tells of a man with a hundred sheep and one of them was lost. He left the 99 sheep and went in search of the lost one. When he found it he carried it home on his shoulder and called his friends and celebrated. (Luke 15:4-7)

The next parable was of a woman that had ten pieces of silver and had lost one. She looked through her entire house and did not give up until she found the lost piece of silver. She too called her friends and celebrated with them. (Luke 15:8-10)

The third parable is the Parable of the Prodigal Son. A man had two sons and one of them demanded his his inheritance, which his father gave him. The son then spent his inheritance on what Savior called “riotous living". The scripture says that “when he came to himself” he realized what he had done and went home to his father. He did not feel worthy to be a son, but all he wanted was to be one of his father’s servants. The Savior said that the when his father saw him coming he:

20. ...had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:

 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:

 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. (Luke 15:11-24)

The prodigal son had come home and he was forgiven. We are all similar to those that were lost in the three parables. We have all sinned and are cut off from the presence of our Heavenly Father. Some of us are like the prodigal son spending our inheritance with “riotous living”. Elder Bruce D. Porter, of the Quorum of the Seventy, spoke on this when he said:

The parable of the prodigal son is a parable of us all. It reminds us that we are, in some measure, prodigal sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven. For, as the Apostle Paul wrote, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23).

Like the errant son of the Savior’s parable, we have come to “a far country” (Luke 15:13) separated from our premortal home. Like the prodigal, we share in a divine inheritance, but by our sins we squander a portion thereof and experience a “mighty famine” (Luke 15:14) of spirit. Like him, we learn through painful experience that worldly pleasures and pursuits are of no more worth than the husks of corn that swine eat. We yearn to be reconciled with our Father and return to his home.

In the parable of the prodigal son, only the eldest son remains true to his father; in his own words, “Neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment” (Luke 15:29). Similarly, in the plan of salvation, the Firstborn of the Father is sinless and without spot. Yet there is a vital difference. In the parable, the eldest son is jealous of the attention paid to the returning prodigal. In the plan of salvation, however, the eldest son makes possible the return of the prodigals.

The Father sends him forth to redeem his sons and daughters from bondage. The eldest is filled with compassion. “I will save them out of all their dwelling places, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them” (Ezek. 37:23). He journeys the long distance to find and bring home the prodigal ones. And there he finds us weary, hungry, and downtrodden. He feeds us and gives us drink. He lives among us and shares our burdens. Then, in a final act of supreme love, the eldest son takes of his own wealth and, one by one, he ransoms us. In order to pay the fulness of our debt, he is compelled to sacrifice his own fortune, yea, all that he has, every whit. (“Redeemer of Israel”, Elder Bruce D. Porter, General Conference, October 1995)

The question we need to ask ourselves is: “like the prodigal son, will I come to myself and seek to return to the Father?” Have we made the choice to come home? When we do choose to repent and return to the Father, when he sees us he will run to us and throw his arms around us and through the atonement of our elder brother, Jesus Christ, we will be cleansed and dressed in the finest robes and the heavens will celebrate our return. Like the lost sheep and coin that are found there will be a celebration for us when we accept responsibility for our sins and seek repentance and accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Speaking of the father in the parable Elder Spencer J. Condie speaking at a BYU Devotional address said:

“Throughout the years this father had continually developed such a compassionate, forgiving, loving disposition that he could do nothing else but love and forgive. This parable is a universal favorite for all of us because it holds out the hope to each one of us that a loving Father in Heaven stands in the roadway, as it were, anxiously awaiting the arrival of each of His prodigal children back home.” (“A Disposition to Do Good Continually”, Spencer J. Condie, BYU Devotional Address, February 9, 2010).

This is our Heavenly Father; he anxiously awaits each of our return. It is through the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his atonement that we are able to overcome our selfish and worldly desires and “putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint” (Mosiah 3:19).  We are all like the prodigal son; to whom the father will say when we return: “this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15:24).

Below is a six-minute clip that is a great example of one modern day prodigal son that returns when presented with the opportunity.

Your comments are always welcome.

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