So yeah, saving the lost . . . literally. . . .
At home . . . my wife said, "oh, the puppy is crying--". We are watching our grandog Banjo and had put Dude in his crate upstairs to get a break from the constant rough-housing between them and we heard something like crying. Pausing to listen at the bottom of the stairs we realized it was a child wailing loudly outside.
We looked out the door and a little, blond-haired boy was wandering in our driveway howling crying, obviously in some trouble. I went to talk to him and realized he was lost. He was only about 4 years old, dressed in little blue BYU sweats. It was cold out and so I told him to sit on my front step and I would grab my coat and we would go find his parents. It was a strategic move on my part, considering the "stranger-danger" days we live in to not have him come inside our house.
I didn't recognize him as being from any nearby homes so figured he must live around the corner perhaps. He was so upset he could barely talk . . . but as far as I understood it at that point, he was saying his dad had left him--driven off and he was lost.
This didn't sound quite right, though, as he looked quite well cared for and though I couldn't rule out abandonment (in these often shocking times) . . . I suspected he was just mistaken as to what put him in this predicament. An LDS church is down at the bottom of our street, a fair distance . . . and so, I also suspected that he had perhaps come from there as they often have activities going on during the week and evenings.
But as I squatted down to calm him and talk him out of his hysterics . . . he implied that maybe his home was UP the street somewhere . . . and that his father had gone home. He also said his mother was home. So we started walking that direction.
And walking . . . and walking. Having raised 4 boys I was well equipped to quickly get him calmed down and comfortable to talk as he was able and we talked about his favorite super heroes (Spider Man, Hulk etc.) as we walked along, dusk quickly fading to nighttime.
About 25 minutes of walking . . . for several blocks . . . and him not recognizing anything . . . I began to suspect that he really had no idea where his house was . . . and we were on a wild goose chase. But at least he now was at ease, laughing and smiling with me as we talked--me trying to get more information about who he was, where he lived, what he was doing, how he got lost, what his dad was doing etc.
A couple of times he started running ahead . . . down cul-de-sacs . . . and got my hopes up that at last he recognized the neighborhood and his house was in sight. But then he would just keep going and finally I concluded, indeed, he had no idea whatsoever where he lived.
Though keeping up a calm and comforting face to him . . . as we went along, I was feeling increasingly mortified as I knew his parents by now must be freaking out. We had been walking for about a half hour or so. I didn't take my phone because I don't get cell service up on the mountain where we live. . . .
I decided then that we should hustle to the LDS church where I determined he had last been, figuring someone would be there who knew him.
As we approached the church, the parking lot was milling with youth and some adults. A black SUV tore out of the lot and headed towards us. I figured this was probably a parent and was right as the car pulled to the side of the road by us.
And oh . . . the terrified, semi-hysterical but elated look on his mother's face as she jumped and grabbed him. I know that feeling as Isaac, when he was about 7 got on a wrong bus coming home from school and ended up being dropped off and wandering a major street lost and crying some 30 miles away from home. . . .
I knew the lady's first thoughts were probably scared and suspicious. Who was this unshaven guy, in painter clothes, slippers, . . . a roughly plopped-on bandana . . . walking down the street with her lost, precious little boy?
I quickly told her what had happened . . . and she was put at ease and then the father ran over. They had called 911 . . . police were on the way, and people were already searching the nearby foothills for little Luke.
What a scare for those poor parents. What seems to have happened is that little Luke was playing with the other kids at the church while his father was there doing something . . . and Luke saw a car leave which he mistook for his dad's and so he started walking to follow him . . . and ended up quite a ways away . . . in front of our house, lost.
Now, as I thought about it this morning . . . and considering recent topics . . . I couldn't help seeing another analogy.
Did Luke, by his "free will" . . . end up getting lost and show up at my house? Was it luck that he came to my house? Could Luke, by himself, have found his way home . . . using his "free will" intention to make his way home?
Well, indeed, Luke, by and through his own willful actions go lost and was trying to find his way back home. No one was forcing him to wander or walk up the street or stop in our driveway.
BUT . . . he was only CAPABLE of doing so much . . . according to his nature and developmental condition. He was about 4 years old. His intention, his "free will" was to get home--but in reality he was unable . . . without help. His house turned out to be several miles away down the mountain road with only open, scrub-oak covered hills along the sides. Yes, he was free to try, but he really had no idea even which direction to go. His "salvation" only came when someone other who was capable intervened to help him.
Again, analogies only go so far, but this shows that even though one has a will and can do things . . . the little boy's nature (being a 4 year old with no idea how to achieve his goal) prevented him from success. In the same way, yes we have "free will" relatively speaking, but it is wholly and completely limited by our sinful, fallen nature, which, according to the Word of God does no good and does not genuinely seek for God.