"My dear father walked with me the first six miles of the way. His counsels and tears and heavenly conversation on that parting journey are fresh in my heart as if it had been yesterday; and tears are on my cheeks as freely now as then, whenever memory steals me away to the scene. For the last half-mile or so we walked on together in almost unbroken silence,- my father, as was often his custom, carrying hat in hand, while his long, flowing yellow hair (then yellow, but in later years white as snow) streamed like a girl's down his shoulders. His lips kept moving in silent prayers for me, and his tears fell fast when our eyes met each other in looks for which all speech was vain. We halted on reaching the appointed parting place; he grasped my hand firmly for a minute in silence, and then solemnly and affectionately said-
'God bless you , my son! Your father's God prosper you , and keep you from all evil!'
Unable to say more, his lips kept moving in silent prayer; in tears we embraced, and parted. I ran off as fast as I could, and, when about to turn a corner in the road where he would lose sight of me, I looked back and saw him still standing with head uncovered where I had left him. Waving my hat in adieu, I was round the corner and out of sight in an instant. But my heart was too full and sore to carry me further, so I darted into the side of the road and wept for a time. Then, rising up cautiously, I climbed the dyke to see if he yet stood where I had left him, and just at that moment I caught a glimpse of him climbing the dyke and looking out for me! He did not see me, and after he had gazed eagerly in my direction for a while, he got down, turned his face towards home, and began to return-his head still uncovered, and his heart, I felt sure, still rising in prayers for me. I watched through blinding tears, till his form faded from my gaze; and then, hastening on my way, vowed deeply and oft, by the help of God, to live and act so as never to grieve or dishonour such a father and mother as He had given me."
-John G. Paton: Missionary to the New Hebrides on his departure for the mission field.
I have come back to this story over and over again always placing myself in the position of John Paton, leaving his father for a foreign land. I have experienced the feelings of departing from those I deeply love. But after last week I feel the emotions of the father. Last week my Dad and Mom left for Brazil to, like Paton, be a missionary of Christ. We knew this would not be easy; it was never meant to be; it was never promised to be.
But I have more in common with the situation above. John's father had a deep desire to be in the ministry but knew that God's calling for his life was to remain home and work; raising his boys to serve the Lord. In the same way I also have a desire to be on the mission field again; a desire that is so strong sometimes I am very tempted to run there. But I know that I am called to be here now, working, raising my family.
With all of this said I hope that one can see the complicated mixture of pain and joy that is mingled in Paton's goodbye and also in ours. The pain of seeing someone else doing what your soul is crying out to do. The pain of wondering why God does not have that for you now. The pain of saying goodbye. And yet the great joy of seeing your family set out to follow your Lord the same way you long to. The joy of knowing that they are doing something that has the highest possible rewards.
But there is also a hope that one day the Lord will bring us back together again to rejoice in the callings that he has given us all.
I love you Mom and Dad. We will be praying for you. God bless you , my parents! Your family's God prosper you , and keep you from all evil!