He sees you, haggard, hunger stricken

(John MacDuff, "CLEFTS OF THE ROCK" 1874)

"So he got up and went to his Father.  But while he
was still a long way off, his Father saw him and was
filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son,
threw his arms around him and kissed him." Luke 15:20

Reader, you may have reached the momentous time
in your spiritual history, when conscience has awoke
with quickened sensibility; when forgotten sins are
brought before you in vivid memorial; the obligations
of a misspent life flashing upon you the reality of a
hopeless bankruptcy. And you feel how utterly vain
is the plea with which you have long sought to delude
yourself, "Have patience with me, and I will pay You all."

You may feel that in yourself, you are the most
worthless and abandoned of prodigals
; that you
have righteously forfeited a place within the Father's
eternal halls! But, He is waiting your return. He sees
you, haggard, hunger stricken
; sick at heart. He
watches the first indications of penitential sorrow.
While yet "a great way off," He is ready with the
fond embrace and the kindly welcome.

Wondrous tenderness, surely, do these His own
words describe, in that surpassingly touching parable,
"But while he was still a long way off, his Father saw
him and was filled with compassion for him; He ran to
His son, threw His arms around him and kissed him."

The riotous living!
The spendthrift life!
The debasing companionship!
All forgotten?

Yes! by that one kiss of forgiveness,
all is buried in everlasting oblivion!

With another it may be the burden of declension and
backsliding; the guilt of apostasy from a first love;
the decay of the inner life. Permitted sin and allowed
have brought on spiritual languor and
lethargy. You are not what once you were . . .
  you have lost tenderness of conviction;
  you have blunted the fine edge of conscience;
  the old ardor in the divine race is gone!

You have allowed the tooth of earthly cares to corrode;
and petty vexations and annoyances to eat out the kernel
of religion. "The little foxes" have entered unchallenged
the soul's vineyard and spoiled the grapes!

None more bruised and broken than you!

The candle, once burning clear, gives forth now
nothing but noxious smoke; polluting and poisoning
the atmosphere of your spiritual being!

Do not despond!

The forgiving love and tenderness of Christ can meet
your case! Burdened one, He your Shepherd is willing
gently to lead you also. He will rekindle these smouldering
ashes of a dying love. He will "strengthen the things
which remain that are ready to die."

"O Israel, My faithless people, come home to Me again,
 for I am merciful. I will not be angry with you forever.
 Only acknowledge your guilt. Admit that you rebelled
 against the Lord your God and committed adultery
 against Him by worshiping idols under every green
 tree. Confess that you refused to follow Me. I, the
 Lord, have spoken!" Jeremiah 3:12-13