We were sitting in my grown son’s hospital room. He had been admitted due to congestive heart failure caused by sleep apnea. The quiet was punctuated by beeping monitors as we sat in the soft glow of the equipment. Suddenly his blood pressure was dropping and a nurse rushed us out of the room. We stood in the hallway as an emergency “crash cart” with paddles was quickly rolled into the room by several other technicians.

I stood, trembling, as I stared at the wall.  “STAY WITH ME!” one man shouted inside the room. And then again, “STAY WITH ME!”

I closed my eyes as hot tears streamed down my cheeks. This is what you say when you’re losing the patient. Was my son dying? I couldn’t feel my body. Just heat and pain. Bob and I held each other for what seemed like eternity. Then word came that our son had been revived.

He doesn’t remember this event, but I will never forget it. For an isolated, frantic moment, nothing mattered more than keeping our boy alive. Every action, every thought of the workers, was to keep him breathing. And every one of our thoughts was a prayer to God to do the same.

The terror of that moment has not dimmed. When he comes over, sometimes I look at him and have to shake off the tears that want to come back again. How close we came to losing him!

And I feel as if I’ve been given a tiny glimpse into what God goes through, and what the Lord feels when we come so close, so very close, to spiritual death. This other death– losing our faith, turning away from our testimony, is also an emergency. If only there were an electric shock that could restore the heartbeat of belief.

There isn’t such a machine. There is only the working team—us—trying to do all we can to save those we love, to gather sheep and protect them. Like our son, they don’t realize the gravity of the situation. It is only we, who watch from the outside, who feel the fright of what’s happening.

In the 55th chapter of Isaiah, the Lord promises joy and peace to those who abide with Him. In verse 3 He says, “Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you…”  In 1 Corinthians 7:24 we read, “Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.”

Repeatedly, the Savior implores us to come unto him to live. Just a sprinkling of such invitations: “All ye that labor, All ye that are heavy laden, Little children, Come ye after me, He that come to me shall never hunger, Come in the unity of the faith, Repent and come unto me.”

And then, he urges us to stay: “Cleave unto the Lord your God, Cleave unto me with all your heart, Continue with me now, Continue ye in my love, Continue in the faith, that Christ… may seal you His, Encircled… in the arm of His love, Arm of mercy is extended, Endure to the end.”

I can almost picture Him watching us as we weigh our temptations, as we rationalize sin, and begging us: “Stay with me!” The urgency of His message penetrates my heart as I realize He is not simply trying to heal a patient, but trying to keep those he loves. And he loves us more than we love our children. More than we can comprehend in mortality.

I wonder if He thinks of those words when we encounter confusing challenges to our faith. When we hear distracting voices trying to pull us away. When we allow criticisms of our church to skip and play among the truths we hold in our hearts. Stay with me.

People say and do regrettable things; we’re human. It’s easy to take offense and distance ourselves from the whole of the gospel, just because of one person’s remarks. Can we see beyond the mortal person to the immortal One?  Stay with me.

Is this a message we can convey to those we minister to? Can we let them know we want them to stay in the fold, receive all blessings, and truly know peace and joy? Can we offer to be there for members who have tough questions, who aren’t sure where they belong anymore?  Stay with me.

Our vital signs may drop to dangerous levels. Our determination to stay the course can flag when we’re exhausted or when we entertain doubts. We may all need rescuing from time to time. But let’s buoy each other up, be the strength they now lack, and offer the loving plea that might make all the difference: Stay with me.

Hilton teaches Seminary. She is also an award-winning playwright, and the author of many best-selling Latter-day Saint books. Those, her humor blog, and YouTube Mom videos can be found on her website.