•  5 min. read  •  grade level: 8
There was something sadly mysterious in the way the young man was treating his christian mother. He had left home, and was lodging in one of the largest cities in the Western States. For some unaccountable reason the couple with whom he lodged had made it their business to poison his mind against his widowed mother. So effectually had they done this, that at last he not only refused to come home to see his sorrowing parent, but refused to reply to any letter she sent him. Special messengers were deputed to convey the assurance of her tender regard for him, but all to no purpose.
At last, for his sisters, a sad day came, for they were told that their mother must undergo a serious operation. This moved them to entreat their brother, ere his mother passed under the operator's hand, to grant her the longed-for pleasure of seeing his face once more, warning him that this might possibly be his last chance of gratifying her. But no. With stolid hardness he refused all their yearning entreaties, and the day for the operation arrived. The devoted mother had placed on the corner of the mantelpiece, facing the door of entrance, his photograph, so that if he should come to peep in unexpectedly he might see that his heart's coldness had not driven him from her heart's memory.
The operation proceeded, and even while under the influence of chloroform the chief burden of her thoughts was only made the more manifest; for as the surgeon's critical services went on she repeated again and again, 'If he only knew the heart I have for him, I am sure he would come back! If he only knew!'
Did it ever strike you, dear unsaved reader, that the secret of all your years of refusal to receive divine blessing lies in your ignorance of what the heart of God is toward you? "If thou knewest" was the Savior's own word to the sinful woman at Sychar, and "If thou hadst known" the audible expression of His sorrow after the proud rejection of His kindness by the favored city.
The bestowal of his substance upon the younger son in the parable was no adequate expression of the father's heart. Ah! no. The prodigal never imagined what his father's love really was, until in his destitution he returned. His utmost hope was that he might be allowed to subsist as a hireling at his father's gate. Yet what a jubilant reception, what a warm, overflowing welcome was his!
How marvelous the love of God! How hard the heart of man! Only the suffering and death of the Son of God could adequately express such love; only the gracious Spirit of God, even after such proof as Calvary affords, could give man's heart to believe it. It is only the Holy Spirit who can effectually commend God's love in Christ to any human heart, and there shed abroad its cheering rays.
You may possibly, my reader, wonder at the hardness of the heart of the young man just referred to, but what about your own case? How has God's love affected you? Are you still listening to the lie of the enemy, and shutting God out of your thoughts? or has the light of His love entered, casting out all your fear, removing all your cold suspicions?
Do not say that His holiness and righteousness stand in the way of your believing the record of His love. He has expressed His righteousness in respect of your sin by the very act that proves His love. Death has been the penalty of sin from the beginning, and in receiving that penalty Christ has perfectly expressed God's love. If His righteousness necessitates that man as a sinner should be driven out, the very One who drove man out, by the way of death, came down to where man was to bear his suffering, and bring him back by a new and living way through His own death. He opened out "the way of peace" by His own acceptance of the storm of judgment, and, having passed through it, He stands in risen power beyond it-a willing Savior mighty to save. You cannot find proof of God's love in yourself. In vain you will grope for it there. The sun rises and shines without your asking, and without your deserving. So the love of God. If your window shutters are up, the proof that the sun has risen will be found outside your house before it is found inside. Take down your heart's shutters and look out. Like the rising sun, God's love does not wait for your asking, nor is it limited by your deserving. Look to the throne where Jesus now sits exalted as Lord. Behold the glory which God has put upon Him, and see in those glories the eternal declaration of God's estimate of the value of His sufferings.
The young man we have spoken of did at last return, and the mother's life was spared to see it. Late one winter's night it was her joy to meet him at the railway station and welcome him home. A day later the writer of this paper was allowed the privilege of sharing her joy.
Has there yet been joy in heaven, dear reader, over your return? If not, may we remind you that the last warning will come! Oh, if you only knew what God's heart is toward sinners you would surely hasten to confess your unworthiness, and receive His forgiveness.
Then will you be able to sing with everyone else who has so come: —
Not half Thy love can I express,
Yet, Lord, with joy my lips confess
This blessed portion I possess,
O Lamb of God, through Thee.'
Geo. Cutting
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