Where Art Thou? # 3
He was ashamed to go home to meet his father, and he fled. The father knew what it all meant. He knew the boy thought he would be very angry with him. He was grieved to think that his boy should have such feelings towards him. That is exactly like the sinner. He thinks because he has sinned, God will have nothing to do with him. But what did that father do? Did he say, "Let the boy go?" No, he went after him. He arranged his business and started after the boy. That man went from town to town, from city to city. He would get the ministers to let him preach, and at the close he would tell his story. "I have got a boy who is a wanderer on the face of the earth somewhere." He would describe his boy and say, "If you ever hear of him or see him, will you not write to me?" At last he found that he had gone to California, thousands of miles away. Did that father say "Let him go?" No; off he went to the Pacific coast, seeking the boy. He went to San Francisco, and advertised in the newspapers that he would preach at such a church on such a day. When he had preached he told his story, in hopes that the boy might have seen the advertisement and come to the church. When he had done, away under the gallery there was a young man who waited until the audience had gone out; then he came towards the pulpit. The father looked, and saw it was that boy, and he ran to him, and pressed him to his bosom. The boy wanted to confess what he had done, but not a word would the father hear. He forgave him freely, and took him to his home once more.
Oh, prodigal, you may be wandering on the dark mountains of sin,but God wants you to come home. The devil has been telling you lies about God; you think he will not receive you back. I tell you, He will welcome you this minute if you will come. Say, "I will arise and go to my Father." May God incline you to take this step. There is not one whom Jesus has not sought far longer than that father. There has not been a day since you left Him but He gas followed you. I do not care what the past has been, or how black your life, He will receive you back. Arise then, O backslider, and come home once more to your Father's house.
Not long ago, in Edinburgh, a lady who was an earnest Christian worker, found a young woman whose feet had taken hold of hell, and who was pressing onwards to a harlot's grave. The lady begged her to go back to her home, but she said no, her parents would never receive her. This Christian woman knew what a mother's heart was; so she sat down and wrote a letter to the mother, telling her how she had met her daughter, who was sorry, and wanted to return. The next post brought an answer back, and on the envelope was written, "Immediately - immediately!" That was a mother's heart. They opened the letter. Yes, she was forgiven. They wanted her back, and they sent money for her to come immediately. Sinner, that is the proclamation, "Come immediately". That is what the great and loving God is saying to every wandering sinner - "immediately". Yes, backslider, come home tonight. He will give you a warm welcome, and there will be joy in heaven over your return. Come now, for everything is ready.
A friend of mine said to me some time ago, "Did you ever notice what the prodigal lost by going into that country? He lost his food." That is what every poor backslider loses. They get no manna from heaven. The Bible is a closed book to them; they see no beauty in the Word of God.
Then the prodigal lost his work. He was a Jew, and they made him take care of swine; that was all loss for a Jew. So every backslider loses his work. He cannot do anything for God; he cannot work for eternity. He is a stumbling block to the world. My friend, do not let the world stumble over you into hell.
The prodigal also lost his testimony. Who believed him? I can imagine some of these men came along, natives of that country, and they saw this poor prodigal in his rags, barefooted and bareheaded. There he stands among the swine and someone says to another, "Look at that poor wretch." "What," he says, "do you call me a poor wretch? My father is a wealthy man; he has got more clothes in his wardrobe than you ever saw in your life. My father is a man of great wealth and position." Do you suppose these men would believe him? "That poor wretch the son of a wealthy man!" Not one of them would believe him. "If he had such a wealthy father he would go to him." So with the backsliders; the world does not believe that they are the sons of a King. They say, "Why don't they go to Him, if there is bread enough and to spare? Why don't they go home?"
Then, another thing the prodigal lost was his home. He had no home in that foreign country. As long as his money lasted, he was quite popular in the public house and among his acquaintances; he had professed friends, but as soon as his money was gone, where were his friends? That is the condition of every poor backslider in London.
But now I can imagine someone saying, "There would be little use of me attempting to come back. In a few days I should just be where I was again. I should like very much to go to my Father's home again, but I'm afraid I wouldn't stay there." Well, just picture this scene. The poor prodigal has got home, and the father has killed the fatted calf; and there they are, sitting at the table eating. I can imagine that was about the sweetest morsel he ever got - perhaps the nicest dinner he ever had in his life. His father sits opposite; he is full of joy, and his heart is leaping within him. All at once he sees his boy weeping. "My son, what are you weeping for? Are you not glad to have got home?" "Oh, yes, father; I never was so glad as I am today: but I am so afraid I will go back into that foreign country!" Why, you cannot imagine such a thing! When you have got one meal in your Father's house, you will never be inclined to wander away again.
Now let me speak to the Third class. "If the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?" Sinner, what is to become of you? How shall you escape? "Where art thou?" Is it true that you are living without God and without hope in the world? Did you ever stop to think what would become of your soul if you should be taken away by a sudden stoke of illness - where you would stand in eternity? I read that the sinner is without God, without hope, and without excuse. If you are not saved, what excuse will you have to give? You cannot say that it is God's fault. He is only too anxious to save you. He is only too anxious to save you. I want to tell you tonight that you can be saved if you will. If you really want to pass from death to life, if you want to become an heir of eternal life, if you want to become a child of God, make up your mind this night that you will seek the kingdom of God. I tell you, upon the authority of this Word, that if you seek the kingdom of God you will find it. No man ever sought Christ with a heart to find Him who did not find Him. I never knew a man make up his mind to have the question settled, but it was settled soon. This last year there has been a solemn feeling stealing over me. I am what they call in the middle of life, in the prime of life. I look upon life as a man who has reached the top of a hill, and just begins to go down the other side. I have got to the top of the hill, if I should live the full term of life - three score years and ten - and am just on the other side. I am speaking to many now who are are also on the top of the hill, and I ask you, if you are not Christians, just to pause a few minutes, and ask yourselves where you are. Let us look back on the hill that we have been climbing. What do you see? Yonder is the cradle. It is not far away. How short life is? It all seems but as yesterday. Look along up the hill, and yonder is a tombstone; it marks the resting place of a loved mother. When that mother died, did you not promise God that you would serve Him? Did you not say that your mother's God should become your God? And did you not take her hand in the stillness of the dying hour, and say, "Yes, mother, I will meet you in heaven!" And have you kept that promise? Are you trying to keep it? Ten years have rolled away: fifteen years - but are you any nearer God? Did the promise work any improvement in you? No, your heart is getting harder: the night is getting darker; by and by death will be throwing its shadows round you. My friend,Where art thou? Look again. A little further up the hill there is another tombstone. It marks the resting place of a little child. It may have been a lovely girl - perhaps her name was Mary; or it may have been a boy - Charley; and when that child was taken from you, did you not promise God, and did you not promise the child that you would meet it in heaven? Is the promise kept? Think! Are you still fighting against God? Are you still hardening your heart? Sermons that would have moved you five years ago - do they touch you now?
Once more look down the hill. Yonder there is a grave; you cannot tell how many days, or weeks, or years it is away, you are hastening towards that grave. Even should you live the life allotted to man, many of you are near the end, you are getting very feeble, and your locks are turning gray. It maybe the coffin is already made that this body shall be laid in; it may be that the shroud is already waiting. My friend, is it not the height of madness to put off salvation so long? Undoubtedly I am speaking to some who will be in eternity a week from now. In a large audience like this, during the next week death will surely come and snatch some away; it may be the speaker, or it may be someone who is listening. Why put off the question another day? Why say to the Lord Jesus again tonight, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for Thee?" Why not let Him come in tonight? Why not open your heart, and say, "King of Glory, come in?"
Will there ever be a better opportunity? Did not you promise ten, fifteen, twenty, thirty years ago that you would serve God? Some of you said you would do it when you got married and settled down; some of you said you would serve Him when you were your own master. Have you attended to it?
You know there are three steps to the lost world; let me give you their names. The first is Neglect. All a man has to do is to neglect salvation, and that will take him to the lost world. Some people say, "What have I done!" Why, if you merely neglect salvation, you will be lost. I am on a swift river, and lying in the bottom of my little boat. Down yonder, ten miles below, is the great cataract. Everyone that goes over it perishes. I need not row the boat down; I have only to pull in the oars, and fold my arms and neglect. So all that a man has to do is to fold his arms in the current of life, and he drift onwards and be lost.
The second step is Refusal. If I met you at the door and pressed this question on you, you would say, "Not tonight, Mr. Moody, not tonight;" and if I repeated, "I want you to press into the kingdom of God," you would politely refuse: "I will not become a Christian tonight, thank you; I know I ought, but I won't tonight."
Then the last step is to Despise it. Some of you have already got on the lower round of the ladder. You despise Christ. You hate Christ, you hate Christianity; you hate the best people on earth and the best friends you have got; and if I were to offer you the Bible, you would tear it up and put your foot upon it. Oh, despisers! you will soon be in another world. Make haste and repent and turn to God. Now, on which step are you, my friend; neglecting, or refusing, or despising? Bear in mind that a great many are taken off from the first step; they die in neglect. And a great many are taken away refusing. And a great many are on the last step, despising salvation.
A few years ago they neglected, then they got to refuse; and now they despise Christianity and Christ. They hate the sound of the church bell; they hate the Bible and the Christian; they curse the very ground that we walk on. But one more step and they are gone. Oh ye despisers, I set before you life and death; which will you choose? When Pilate had Christ on his hands, he said, "What shall I do with Him?" and the multitude cried out, "Away with Him! crucify Him!" Young men, is that your language tonight? Do you say, "Away with this gospel! Away with Christianity! Away with your prayers, your sermons, your gospel sounds! I do not want Christ!" Or will you be wise and say, "Lord Jesus, I want Thee, I need Thee, I will have Thee?" Oh, my God bring you to that decision!
~D. L. Moody~