Luke xv. 20.
The Wanderer's Welcome.
by A. S. Ormsby
"When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran,
and fell on his neck, and kissed him."—Luke xv. 20.
"Though clothed in rags, by sin defiled,
The Father did embrace his child;
And I am pardoned, reconciled—
O Lamb of God, in Thee!"
HE was dying, far from home and friends. Sin, disease, and want, were doing their deadly work with him, leaving it no uncertainty what that result would be. And now he was alone—without one human friend to turn to, and with the bitter consciousness that he was so by his own choice, and from his own doing.
He had had a fair start in life. Not so much as some it may be, though certainly more than many others. But he had used his means in the service of sin and Satan and was now fresh reaping the results—getting his wages for all those years of willing slavery; for "the wages of sin is death." In this distant land, he had "seen life" as men say—enjoyed the "pleasures of sin" for a season—or, in other words, had "wasted his substance in riotous living." But this reckless extravagance could not go on; and at last, there came a day when he found he had "spent all"—that his last shilling was gone, and with it his (so called) friends had disappeared.
And then "there arose a mighty famine in that land, and he began to be in want." Still he sought for resources from the wrong place. Still he turned to this poor world, to the last, looking to it, to give him something in his hour of sore need. But its doors were shut against him. "No man gave unto him." And now, as he feeds those swine in the fields, he has leisure to think. He looks forward to a hopeless future, whose horizon is bounded by death. He looks back upon those wasted years—years black with sin. But further back still, come thoughts of a father's love slighted, his counsels scorned, his gifts abused. His heart is touched; it is bowed, it is broken. Such a father! Such a love! And to have been so treated!
Then, with the sense of his desperate need pressing upon him, and the consciousness of his father's ability to relieve him, he says, "I will arise and go to my father." Oh! moment of happy decision when he turns his back upon the world, and his face towards home! Little he thinks of the universal joy which will pervade the household on his arrival. Little he anticipates the heart-breaking, yet heart-healing "welcome" conveyed in the father's long, lingering, embrace! Yet all this is awaiting his return. And that father, whose eyes have so long, eagerly but vainly, scanned the distant highway, is the first to see the beloved form of his long-lost son approaching. "When he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck, and kissed him." The son came along slowly and sadly, it may be—"the father ran"—and just as he was, with the soil and stain of the "far country" upon him, in his rags and wretchedness and defilement, "fell on his neck, and kissed him."
And then into the sweet privacy of the father's ear, the heart-broken confession is breathed: "Father I have sinned." But without a reference to the past, without a reproach, or a regret, the father's response is—"Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet; and bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat and be merry." Oh! sweet revelation of a father's heart! Oh! tender story of a father's love! A love which cannot rest until the wandering one is with him again, to enjoy all his heart has planned, and his hand has given.
But more: he was not only received as a son, but openly acknowledged as such. "What!" those outside might say, "will you acknowledge him who has so dishonoured your name, and disgraced himself? Will you own him who has wasted his substance in riotous living, and devoured your living with harlots?" And there seems a ring of joyful triumph in the father's voice as he responds: "This my son was dead, and is alive again; was lost, and is found."
Dear soldier friends, this is no fictitious tale, but a blessed fact, told out by the Lord Jesus Christ, to show His Father's way of receiving sinners. "This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them" had been the scornful taunt flung at Him by the self-righteous Pharisees (Luke xv. 2). And He seemed gladly to endorse it by this touching story, as though He said: "Yes, and I will show you how they are received!"
Oh, wanderer! still so far from the love and joy and rest of home; will you not return to this Father Who is waiting and yearning for you? Satan would fain make you believe that he does not want you, that he is indifferent to you. But oh, it is not so! He longs after you, He wants you, He loves you, He gave His Son to die for you, and now He is pleading with you to accept Christ as your Saviour, and be reconciled to Him (2 Cor. v. 20). "To as many as received Him (Christ), to them gave He power to become sons of God" (John i. 12). The moment of faith is the moment of stepping from the region of the curse—the "far country"—to the region of the blessing—the Father's house. Oh! will you not take this step? Now, to-day, will you not start on that wondrous path of blessing which begins and culminates in the presence of God?
"Come home! come home! You are weary at heart;
For the way has been dark, and so lonely and wild
O, prodigal child!
Come home! oh, come home!
"Come home! come home! There is bread and to spare
And a warm welcome there. Then to God reconciled—
O, prodigal child!
Come home! oh, come home!"
GOOD NEWS FROM A FAR COUNTRY.
"I do earnestly remember him still."—Jer. xxxi. 20.
Wandering far in sin's dark country,
Hurrying onward to the grave;
Jesus saw thee, and from glory
Came to seek and died to save!
He has seen, and He has followed,
All the paths of sin thou'st trod;
But He's waiting now to save thee,
And to bring thee home to God!
He would have thee know the brightness
Of the Father's house on high;
In that inner circle dwelling
As a son, forever nigh.
This the end for which He suffered,
This the end for which He died;
Far above to have thee with Him
In His glory, glorified!
This what brought Him down from Heaven,
Down in love the lost to save;
But the world—it scorned and slew Him—
Meted Him a cross and grave!
But God raised to His bright glory,
(When Redemption's work was done),
Earth's rejected "Man of Sorrows."
Heaven's Beloved and Peerless One!
And in that unclouded radiance,
Now by angel hosts adored;
In the highest heights of glory
See Him seated—Christ the Lord!
Still His heart with yearning pity,
Follows where Thy footsteps roam;
Oh! that from sin's distant country
Now thy steps would turn towards home!
What a wondrous shout of gladness
Would ascend the realms of bliss!
What a deep—a speechless—"Welcome"
Would be in the Father's kiss!
Ah! that Father's heart is yearning,
Fain would tell thee out its love;
Longs to see thee home returning,
Waits to welcome thee above!
Wretched, ruined, hopeless, dying,
Come to God, and Heaven, and Home!
Jesus waits to save and bless thee,
From the Glory bids thee—"Come!"
"The British Flag and Christian Sentinel" 1881