Where Art Thou? # 2
There was a little story going the round of the American press that made a great impression upon me as a father. A father took his little child out into the field one Sabbath, and, it being a hot day, he lay down under a beautiful shady tree. The little child ran about gathering wild flowers and little blades of grass, and coming to its father and saying, "Pretty! pretty!" At last the father fell asleep, and while he was sleeping the little child wandered away. When he awoke, his first thought was, "Where is my child?" He looked all around, but he could not see him. He shouted at the top of his voice, but all he heard was the echo of his own voice. Running to a little hill, he looked around and shouted again. No response! Then going to a precipice at some distance, he looked down, and there upon the rocks and briars, he saw the mangled form of his loved child. He rushed to the spot, took up the lifeless corpse and hugged it to his bosom, and accused himself of being the murderer of his child. While he was sleeping his child had wandered over the precipice. I thought as I heard that, what a picture of the church of God!
How many fathers and mothers, how many Christian men, are sleeping now while their children wander over the terrible precipice right into the bottomless pit of hell. Father, where is your boy tonight? It may be just out there in some public house; it may be reeling through the streets; it may be pressing onwards to a drunkard's grave. Mother, where is your son? Is he in in the house of the publican drinking away his soul - everything that is dear and sacred to him? Do you know where your boy is? Father, you have been a professed Christian for forty years, where are your children tonight? Have you lived so godly, and so Christ-like, that you can say, Follow me as I followed Christ? Are those Children walking in wisdom; are they on their way to glory; have they been gathered into the fold of Christ; are their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life? How many fathers and mothers today would be able to answer? Did you ever stop to think that you were to blame; that you had not been faithful to your children? Depend upon it, as long as the church is living so much like the world, we cannot expect our children to be brought into the fold. Come, O Lord, and wake up every mother, and may everyone of us who are parents feel the worth of the souls of the children that God has given us. May they never bring our gray hairs with sorrow to the grave, but may they become a blessing to the church and to the world. Not long ago the only daughter of a wealthy friend of mine sickened and died. The father and mother stood by her dying bed. He had spent all his time in accumulating wealth for her; she had been introduced into gay and fashionable society; but she had been taught nothing of Christ. As she came to the brink of the river of death, she said, "Won't you help me; it is very dark, and the stream is bitter cold." They wrung their hands in grief, but could do nothing for her; and the poor girl died in darkness and despair. What was their wealth to them? And yet, you mothers and fathers are doing the same thing today, by ignoring the work God has given you to do. I beseech you, then, each one of you, begin to labor now for the souls of your children!
A young man, some time ago, lay dying, and his mother thought he was a Christian. One day, passing his room she heard him say, "Lost! lost! lost!" The mother ran into the room and cried, "My boy, is it possible you have lost your hope in Christ, now you are dying?" "No, mother, it is not that; I have a hope beyond the grave, but I have lost my life. I have lived twenty-four years, and done nothing for the Son of God, and now I am dying. My life has been spent for myself; I have lived for this world, and now, while I am dying, I have given myself to Christ, but my life is lost." Would it not be said of many of us, if we should be cut down, that our lives have been almost a failure - perhaps entirely a failure as far as leading anyone else to Christ is concerned? Young lady! are you working for the Son of God? Are you trying to win some soul to Christ? Have you tried to get some friend or companion to have her name written in the book of life? Or would you say, "Lost, lost! long years have rolled away since I became a child of God, and I have never had the privilege of leading one soul to Christ?" If there is one professed child of God who never had the joy of leading even one soul into the kingdom of God, oh! let him begin at once. There is no greater privilege on earth. And I believe, my friends, there has never been a time, in our day, at least, when work for Christ was more needed than at present. I do not believe there ever was in your day or mine a time when the Spirit of God was more poured out upon the world. There is not a part of Christendom where the work is not being carried on; and it looks very much as if the glad tidings were just going to take, as it were, a fresh start, and go round the globe. Is it not time that the Church of God should wake up and come to the help of the Lord as one man, and strive to beat back those dark waves of death that roll through our streets, bearing upon their bosom the noblest and the best we have? Oh, may God wake up the Church! And let us trim our lights, and go forth and work for the kingdom of His Son.
Now, secondly, let me talk a little while to those who have gone back into the world - to the Backslider. It may be you came to some great city a few years ago a professed Christian. You were a member of a church once, and a teacher in the Sabbath school, perhaps, but when you came among strangers you thought you would just wait a little - perhaps take a class by and by. So you gave up teaching in the Sunday school; you gave up all work for Christ. Then in your new church you did not receive the attention or the warm welcome that you expected, and you got into the habit of staying away. You have gone so far now, that you are found in the theater, perhaps, and the companion of blasphemers and drunkards. Perhaps I am speaking now to someone who has been away from his father's house for many years. Come, now, blackslider, tell me, are you happy? Have you had one happy hour since you left Christ? Does the world satisfy you, or those husks that you have got in the far country? I have traveled a good deal, but I never found a happy backslider in my life. I never knew a man who was really born of God that ever could find the world satisfy him afterwards. Do you think the Prodigal Son was satisfied in that foreign country? Ask the prodigals in this city if they are truly happy. You know they are not. "There is no peace, saith my God to the wicked." There is no joy for the man in rebellion against his Creator. Supposing he has tasted the heavenly gift, and been in communion with God, and had sweet fellowship with the King of Heaven, and had pleasant hours of service for the Master, but has backsliden, is it possible that he can be happy? If he is, it is good evidence he was never really converted. If a man has been born again, and has received the heavenly nature, this world can never satisfy the cravings of his nature. Oh, backslider, I pity you! But I want to tell you that the Lord Jesus pities you a good deal more than anyone else can. He knows how bitter your life is; He knows how dark your life is; He wants you to come home. Oh, backslider, come home tonight! I have a loving message from your Father. The Lord wants you, and calls you back tonight. Come home, oh wander, this night; return from the dark mountains of sin." Return, and your Father will give you a warm welcome. I know that the devil has told you that God won't have anything to do with you, because you have wandered away. If that is true, there would be very few men in heaven. David backslid; Abraham and Jacob turned away from God; I do not believe there is a saint in heaven but at some time of his life with his heart has backsliden from God. Perhaps not in his life, but in his heart. The prodigal's heart got into the far country before his body got there. Backslider! tonight come home. Your Father does not want you to stay away. Think you the prodigal's father was not anxious for him to come home all those long years he was there? Every year the father was looking and longing for him to return home. So God wants you to come home. I do not care how far you have wandered away; the great Shepherd will receive you back into the fold tonight. Did you ever hear of a backslider coming home, and God not willing to receive him? I have heard of earthly fathers and mothers not being willing to receive back their sons; but I defy any man to say he ever knew a really honest backslider want to get home, but God was willing to take him in.
A number of years ago, before any railway came into Chicago, they used to bring in the grain from the Western prairies in wagons for hundreds of miles, so as to have it shipped off by the Lakes. There was a father who had a large farm out there, and who used to preach the gospel as well as attend to his farm. One day, when church business engaged him, he sent his son to Chicago with grain. He waited and waited for his boy to return, but he did not come home. At last he could wait no longer, so he saddled his horse and rode to the place where his son had sold the grain. He found that he had been there and got the money from the grain; then he began to fear that his boy had been murdered and robbed. At last, with the aid of a detective, they tracked him to a gambling den, where they found that he had gambled away the whole of his money. In hopes of winning it back again, he then had sold the team, and lost that money too. He had fallen among thieves, and like the man who was going to Jericho, they stripped him, and then they cared no more about him. What could he do?
~D. L. Moody~
(continued with # 3)