Rescuing the Sheep

I kind of had a set of experiences over the last 24 hours that has me thinking of the word rescue.

The word usage I’m thinking of comes from the Church’s latest instruction for leadership direction. In that document, the Church added the word rescue in the context that our mission on Earth is to rescue souls, be them our own, our family, our neighbors, the dead, and so on.

On to the experiences: I was standing on the front lawn with a neighbor friend talking about the paint job we’re doing on the house. His young son was with him, and he let him roam and wander. At one point, the son got himself out into the street. Immediately, dad dropped the conversation, sprinted as fast as he could out to his son, grabbed him, and pulled him back to the yard. He gave him a very  gentle swat on the butt, a very mild rebuke, a hug, and sent him on his way.

My first thought was that this was a good example of a rescue. It was immediate, it was urgent, it was sufficient, and it was successful. As a friend of mine likes to point out, correction is a process done in love from start to finish, and this rescue was a solid example of that as well.

As we seek to rescue those around us, we would do well to remember that our own efforts should be immediate responses to the needs of those we would help, that we should be urgent in providing the needed help, that we should provide sufficient help to execute the rescue to the best of our abilities no matter the result, and that we should offer it in love so that our bonds will be strengthened. Only then, I believe, can a true rescue be made.

My second experience happened shortly after. Our bishop passed by the house on his way to visit another family to tell me that a member of my quorum was struggling with something and needed desperate help. After he left, I pondered what could be done, and the thought came to me, as it often does in these situations, to use the home teachers. A quick phone call later, and two of the best people I could recommend where in action in a speedy rescue. While the results of their labors won’t be known for some time, if ever, I’m confident in the effort. I’m also confident in the divine origin of such a program that would and  could send two trusted rescuers immediately. Such an experience should inspire each of us to be more faithful in our own responsibilities to stand as watch men on the tower and, when necessary, to quickly descend and provide the assistance to those over whom we have stewardship.

And finally, this morning, I received a comment on my blog related to one of my old mental illness posts. The commenter suggested that there is no God and that prayer and God cannot help in our trials. My first reaction to these comments is always a declaration of my knowledge that there is indeed a God, that He lives, that He is aware of us, and that He loves us. I testify of the reality of His Son and the saving powers vested in Him. I testify that I know Him, that He knows me, that I can turn to Him when in my sorrows and joys, my pains and triumphs. He lives.

And my second thought is often how one who doesn’t believe can be rescued. I remember during a training session back when I worked in the cruise industry that one of the first-aid trainers mentioned that during a water rescue, there are those who you must choose not to rescue because such an attempt would fail or, worse, result in your own death. Surely this is a close physical approximation of the difficulty of executing a spiritual rescue. There truly are some who would not be saved, though they could look salvation in the face.

But as I’m reminded so often, such is our mission. Such is our faith. Such would be the action of the Savior if he stood in our shoes. Our mission is simple: Rescue. Gather them in. Bring them home.

Doctrine & Covenants 18: 15–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!

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