“Rescuing Lost Lambs,” Liahona, Feb. 2011, 33
Years ago in the early spring, my wife and I had occasion to drive through beautiful Star Valley, Wyoming, USA. It was a wonderful spring morning, and the landscapes and scenery were inspiring.
As Jackie and I drove into Star Valley, we enjoyed seeing an occasional flock of sheep sprinkled with dozens of baby lambs. Few things are more endearing than a baby lamb. As we drove down the busy road, we saw a small lamb outside the fence near the roadside. It was frantically running back and forth against the fence, trying to get back to the flock. I surmised that this little lamb was small enough to have pressed through an opening in the fence but was now unable to return.
I was confident that if we didn’t stop to rescue the lamb, it would eventually wander into the nearby road and be injured or killed. I stopped the car and said to Jackie and our traveling companions in the backseat, “Wait here; this will take just a moment.”
I naturally assumed with my total lack of lamb-herding experience that the frightened lamb would be glad to see me; after all, I had the best of intentions. I was there to save its life!
But to my disappointment, the lamb was afraid and totally unappreciative of my efforts to save it. As I approached it, the little soul ran away from me as fast as it could along the fence. Seeing my plight, Jackie got out of the car to help. But even together we could not outmaneuver the quick little lamb.
At this point the couple in the backseat, who had been thoroughly enjoying the rodeo, piled out of the car and joined in the rescue attempt. With all of our efforts we finally corralled the frightened little lamb against the fence. As I reached down to pick him up in my clean traveling clothes, I quickly noticed that he had the distinct aroma of the barnyard. It was then that I began to wonder, is this effort really worth it?
As we picked up the lamb and lifted him over the fence to safety, he fought and kicked with all his might. But within moments he had found his mother and was pressed tightly and safely against her side. With our clothing a little disheveled but with great satisfaction and peace that we had made the right choice, we went on our way.
I have reflected on that experience several times since. I wonder if we would give that kind of effort to save an unappreciative, less-active neighbor. I hope so! “How much then is a man better than a sheep?” the Savior asked (Matthew 12:12). In every branch, ward, and stake are lost and endangered lambs.
Replacing the word work with rescue in the hymn “Have I Done Any Good?” I invite you to consider its application in saving lost lambs:
There are chances for rescue all around just now,
Opportunities right in our way.
Do not let them pass by, saying, “Sometime I’ll try,”
But go and do something today.1
Our neighbors may seem unappreciative, frightened, or uninterested in being rescued. And our efforts to rescue them may take time, effort, energy, and the support and help of others. But this effort will be rewarded with eternal blessings. As the Lord has promised, if we bring “save it be one soul unto [Him], how great shall be [our] joy with him in the kingdom of [our] Father” (D&C 18:15).