“WHERE ART THOU?” Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
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 every one 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 became sick and died. The father and mother stood by her bed as she was dying. He had spent all his time running his business and in accumulating wealth for her; she had been introduced into fashionable society, but she had been taught nothing about 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 bitterly 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 beg you, then, each one of you, begin to work now for the souls of your children!
A young man, some time ago, was dying, and his mother thought he was a Christian. One day, passing his room door 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 that 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.”
Couldn't it be said of many of us, if we were being 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 needed more 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 are just going to take-off, and go around the globe.
Isn't it time for the Church of God to wake up and come to the aid 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 large city a few years ago as a professed Christian. You were a member of a church once, and a teacher in the Sunday school; but when you were among strangers you thought you would just wait a little — perhaps take a class online. So you gave up teaching in the Sunday school; you gave up all your 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 on Sundays you are found at the movie theater, and perhaps your companions blasphemers and drunkards.
Perhaps I am speaking now to someone who has been away from his father’s house for many years. Come, now, backslider, 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 traveled a good deal when I was younger, but I never found a happy backslider in my life. I never knew a man who was really born-again that ever could be satisfied in the world. 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 for the wicked.” There is no joy for the man in rebellion against his Creator. Suppose 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 now he is backslidden, is it possible that he can be happy? If he is, it is good evidence he was never really saved. 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 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 wanderer, 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, who hasn't at some time in his life, within his heart, backslidden 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. Don't you think the prodigal’s father was anxious for his son 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 who wanted to come home, but God was not 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 it shipped by boat on the Great Lakes. There was a father who had a large farm out there, and who used to preach the gospel as well as tend to his farm. One day, when he was involved in church business, 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 for 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 all of his money. In hopes of winning it back, he 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 left him lying on the street. What could he do? 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 would have such feelings towards him. That is just 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 alone?” 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, please 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 a church on a certain 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 was done preaching, away under the balcony 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 his boy, and he ran to him and hugged him. The boy wanted to confess what he had done, but the father would not hear a word of it. He forgave him freely and took him to his home once more.