Today we went to the grave of one of the greatest missionaries in history, John G. Paton. Here are a few of his reflections:
His Trust in the Promise of Jesus
His courage and peace was fueled all his life long by the words of His Lord in the Great Commission, “Lo I am with you alway, even to the end of the age.” He wrote,
“’Lo, I am with you alway!’
The secret of a quiet heart!
The secret of a gallant spirit!
The secret of a sunny faith!
The text so often on the tongue! The text upon the tomb!
’Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end!’”
His Honor of His Father
One of the most remarkable aspects of his life is the impact of his father. The memory of his father was one of the centering inspiring forces that worked in his soul. Paton wrote the following about his father’s prayer closet in their thatched house, ‘but we children knew that it was a reflection of the Divine Presence in which his life was lived’. He also wrote,
‘Never,’ he says, ‘in temple or cathedral, on mountain or in glen, can I hope to feel that the Lord God is more near, more visibly walking and talking with men, than under that humble cottage roof of thatch and oaken wattles. Though everything else in religion were by some unthinkable catastrophe to be swept out of memory, my soul would wander back to those early scenes, and would shut itself up once again in that sanctuary closet, and, hearing still the echoes of those cries to God, would hurl back all doubt with the victorious appeal: He walked with God; why may not I?’
His Love for Cannibals
One lesson from his life comes from the way he loved the rebellious that God called him to. He was not put off by the cannibals:
‘My first impressions,’ he tells us, ’drove me to the verge of utter dismay. On beholding the natives in their paint and nakedness and misery, my heart was as full of horror as of pity. Had I given up my much-beloved work, and my dear people in Glasgow, with so many delightful associations, to consecrate my life to these degraded creatures? Was it possible to teach them right and wrong, to Christianize, or even to civilize them?’
His Courage in the Face of Danger
His calm in time of crisis caused one friend to say he was the most courageous man he ever knew. On one occasion, when he was in a tree and being threatened from below, he reflected,
‘During the crisis, I felt generally calm and firm of soul, standing erect and with my whole weight on the promise, Lo, I am with you alway. Precious promise! How often I adore Jesus for it and rejoice in it! Blessed be His name!’
‘I have always felt that His promise, Lo, I am with you alway, is a reality, and that He is with His servants to support and bless them even unto the end of the world.’
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