This Sunday, our pastor closed his sermon with a true life story of John Paton and his family being encircled by angels. The band of angels protected his family from a tribe that was seeking to kill his family.
It made me recall this account about him--
Happy as were the Patons in their cottage home, the day came when separations were begun. John had applied for a position in Glasgow, and must go there to be examined. It was about forty miles to Kilmarnock, where he could take a train, and he had to go on foot, because he could not afford to travel in a stagecoach. His baggage consisted of one small bundle.
But the One who said, "I know thy ... poverty, (but thou art rich)," was with him, and courageously he launched out on the ocean of life.
His father, who loved this oldest son very tenderly, walked with him for six miles, and his "counsels and tears and heavenly conversation on that parting journey" were never forgotten by the son. During the latter part of the way they were speechless. The father carried his hat in his hand, and his long yellow locks fell on his shoulders, while silent prayers ascended.
When they reached the place appointed for parting, they clasped hands and the father said, "God bless you, my son! Your father's God prosper you, and keep you from all evil!"
The young man went his way, turning at the corner and waving his hat in farewell. A little farther on, he climbed the dyke for one last look, and there saw the father who too had climbed the dyke, hoping for one more glimpse of his boy. The father's eyes were not so keen as the son's, and he looked in vain for a few moments, then climbed down and started for home, his head still bared, and his heart, no doubt, still offering silent prayers for his son.
In the years that followed, temptations came, as they will to every boy, but the form of his father, as he saw him in parting, seemed like a guardian angel. The blessing his father invoked was upon him and he was kept from sin.
The years which followed were busy years for young Mr. Paton -- sometimes distributing tracts, sometimes teaching school, sometimes hard at work as a city missionary, and all the time fitting himself to be still more useful in the Lord's vineyard.
But the time came when he seemed to hear a voice plainly calling from the New Hebrides, and he longed to give his life as a missionary among the cannibals there. He thought and prayed about it a great deal, for he wanted to be sure that he was really called of God.
When he was convinced that it was the voice of the Master, he offered himself. Dr. Bates, who was in charge of the Heathen Missions Committee, cried for joy. Mr. Paton went to his room with a happy heart, for he was obeying God's call.