The Lost SheepOne day, as I scrolled through the news online, I came across the story of a local woman who had been arrested. The details of the article escape me now, but I vividly remember her mug shot posted at the bottom of the page.
It was a typical mug shot in many ways. The young woman stood in front of black and white bars. A gray box on the bottom of the picture showed her booking number. Her hair hung in her face, and her mascara ran in tracks down her cheeks. But this woman stared at the camera with such an intensity that she seemed to stare at me through my computer screen. I studied the picture for a moment, trying to read the expression in her eyes. There was fear, definitely, some sadness too, but there was more.
She was pleading for help.
I was struck with the impression that I was looking at the picture of a good person who had made some bad choices. This impression was quickly followed by another. Reach out to her.
I shut my laptop and went about my responsibilities for the several hours, maybe even the next few days. I had plenty of excuses for ignoring the prompting. I’m a shy person and awkward person. I don’t talk to strangers, and I don’t talk to strangers in jail. Even more, I didn’t know how to contact her, and if I did, I didn’t know what I’d say.
But none of the excuses were good enough to be excused from acting, because the prompting persisted. When I grew weary of the nagging, I stopped, threw my hands to the heavens, and impatiently asked, “Why? Why me?”
Then came a quiet reply. “Because I love my lost sheep.”
Memories flowed quickly of the many times that people, friends and strangers alike, had reached out to me when I had been lost in the various degrees of life’s darkness.
I stopped what I was doing and turned to a blank page in a notebook . I wrote a few short and very simple words of encouragement, then I signed my name, a name she had never heard before, and quite possibly will never hear again. With a little detective work, I delivered the letter. As I did, I was filled with love for my unknown sister and the unknown challenges she had faced. I was also filled with the peace that comes when following a prompting.
Spencer W. Kimball said, “God does notice us, and He watches over us. But it is usually through another person that He meets our needs.”
I am grateful that the Lord had allowed me to act as His hands in reaching out to one of His lost sheep, but I am even more grateful for the profound affect on my testimony.
I know for certain that another day I will be in a position to reach out to another friend or stranger. I hope I have the courage to act on the service I’m prompted to provide, because I know that Heavenly Father loves His lost sheep.
I know for certain that one day, someone I love will wander lost, and I won’t be able to help them. But I know that the good people near them will be be prompted to reach out in ways that can touch their heart, because I know that Heavenly Father loves His lost sheep.
I also know for certain that one day, to one degree or another, I will be lost. I know that I will never be gone from my Heavenly Father’s view and that He will send someone to find me, like He has many times before, because I know that Heavenly Father loves His lost sheep, especially when that lost sheep is me.