We have all likely known someone who has chosen a different path in life - one that quite possibly could lead to sorrow, pain and difficulties.
In the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke 15 (KJV), Jesus taught about a father with two sons. One decided to ask his father for money and leave home. He "...took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living" (See Luke 15:13). Soon, the son's money had run out, there was famine and life for him became very difficult.
Humbled, he decided to return home and ask his father if he could be one of his servants to earn his keep. However, upon returning home, "...when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him" (Luke 15:20). The father was so happy to have him return that instead of shunning him, he wrapped him in love and celebration.
I imagine this great father would have spent a great deal of time praying for his son. Praying for his safety. Praying for his change of heart and his return back home.
Referring to this parable, author, public speaker and religious leader, Brent Nielson, said, "When the lost is your son, your daughter, your brother or your sister, and he or she has chosen to leave... We love that person with all of our hearts and we watch, we pray and we wait for the Lord's hand to be revealed."
Loving and watching
When someone we love is lost, we must especially show him that we love him even when he is making choices we disagree with. Do not abandon loved ones because of their choices. True love shines through when we love the person, but not what she may be doing or not doing. Withhold judgmental comments or thoughts and let love prevail.
Seek ways to make her feel included in family or church gatherings. Do not shun her or push her away. Constant and careful outpourings of love will keep your relationship strong. She will know you are there for her no matter what.
Often there is not much else we can do other than pray. God does hear our prayers. He will lend his heavenly help. Prayers from parents are often the most powerful force on the earth. Prayer centers our thoughts on our loved one and can often lead to an idea, or prompting, of something we can do to help. A phone call, card or invitation to dinner can make all the difference as we feel inspired from an answer to our humble prayers.
We have to remember that tender mercies happen on the Lord's timetable. This can be hard to accept at times, especially when those we love are at stake. Waiting requires faith and patience. Have faith that the Lord cares just as much, or more, for your loved ones as you do. He also wants their safe return. Do not give up. God will give you the strength to endure, and he will also care for your loved ones. It may take years, but the power of prayer, hope and faith can make all the difference.
The good news is that no matter what we or our loved ones do, no matter how many mistakes we make, we can all find our way back into Jesus's fold. The atonement makes that possible. "All of us need the Savior's atonement to heal us. All of us are lost and need to be found," said Nielson.
The best you can do to help those who are lost is to love them, pray for them and be patient with them. Do not desert someone who is trying to find their way. Be there holding on and giving them a source of strength to come back to when they are ready.