Perhaps there is no subject in the Bible that takes hold of me with as great force as this subject of the wandering child. It enters deeply into my own life; it comes right home into our own family. The first thing I remember was the death of my father, I remember nothing about the funeral, but his death has made a lasting impression upon me.
After my mother’s subsequent sickness, my eldest brother to whom mother looked up to comfort her in her loneliness, and in her great affliction, became a wanderer; he left home. I need not tell you how that mother mourned for her boy, how she waited day by day and month by month for his return.
I need not say how night after night she watched, and wept, and prayed. Many a time we were told to go to the post-office to see if a letter had not come from him, but we had to bring back the sorrowful words, “No letter yet, mother.” Many a time as I walked up to the house, I have heard my mother pray, “O God, bring back my boy.” Many a time did she lift her heart up to God in prayer for her boy.
When the wintry gale would blow around the house, and the gale would rage without, her dear face would wear a terribly anxious look, and she would utter in piteous tones, “Oh, my dear boy; perhaps he is on the ocean this fearful night. O God, preserve him!”
We would sit around the fireside of an evening and ask her to tell us about our father, and she would talk for hours about him; but if the mention of my eldest brother should chance to come in, then all would be hushed; she never spoke of him but with tears.
Many a time did she try to conceal them, but all was in vain, and when Thanksgiving day came, a chair was set for him. Our friends and neighbors gave him up, but mother had faith that she would see him again. One day in the middle of summer, a stranger was seen approaching the house.
He came up on the east piazza and looked upon my mother through the window. The man had a long beard, and when mother first saw him, she did not start or rise, but when she saw the great tears trickling down his cheeks, she cried, “It’s my boy, my dear, dear boy,” and sprang to the window.
But there the boy stood, and said, “Mother, I will never cross the treshhold until you say you forgive me.” Do you think he had to stay there long? No, no, her arms were soon around him, and she wept upon his shoulder as did the father of the prodigal son when he returned home.
I heard of it when in a distant city, and what a thrill of joy shot through me! But what joy on earth can equal the joy in heaven when a wandering child comes home? The matchless parable of the Prodigal was recorded solely to show us the love and compassion of God who waits to receive into the relation of sonship every wandering soul.—MOODY.