While the pioneers were crossing the plains, a small six-year-old boy wandered away from his handcart company during a storm and was lost. When the storm subsided, Robert and Ann Parker realized their boy was missing and began searching. For two days, an organized search was unsuccessful. The decision was taken that the company must move on because of the approaching winter.
A pioneer journal records:
“Ann Parker pinned a bright [red] shawl about the thin shoulders of her husband and sent him back alone on the trail to search again for their child. If he found him dead he was to wrap him in the shawl; if alive, the shawl would be a flag to signal her. Ann and her children took up their load and struggled on with the company, while Robert retraced the miles of … trail, calling, and searching and praying for his helpless little son.”
One suspects that he did not just casually look behind a few trees or leisurely walk along the trail, but that he vigorously investigated every thicket, every clump of trees and gully or wash.
“At last he reached a … trading station where he learned that his child had been found and cared for by a woodsman and his wife. [The boy] had been ill from exposure and fright. [But] God had heard the prayers of his people.
“Out on the trail each night Ann and her children kept watch and, when, on the third night the rays of the setting sun caught the glimmer of a bright red shawl [above her husband’s head], the brave little mother sank in a pitiful heap in the sand. … [She] slept for the first time in six … days.”*
The story illustrates the difference between just looking and “searching diligently.” During his mortal ministry, the Savior stated, “Search the scriptures; … they are they which testify of me” (John 5:39). During his appearance on the Western Hemisphere following his resurrection, Christ quoted from the scriptures and then said to the Nephites: “Ye ought to search these things. Yea, a commandment I give unto you that ye search these things diligently” (3 Ne. 23:1). In our day, the Lord enjoins his followers to “search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and … shall all be fulfilled” (D&C 1:37).
A casual, infrequent exposure to the scriptures will generally not open the door to the whisperings of the Spirit or provide insights into the Savior’s life and character. We need to search the scriptures with the same vigor that Robert hunted for his son and with the consistency of the mother searching the horizon if we expect to hear his voice and know his words.