CHAPTER XI How John Became a Man
As the news of John's wonderful conversion and of his work among the people spread throughout the country, it reached the ears of Farmer Z, in whose home John for the first time had attended family worship. The kind-hearted man had never forgotten the boy who had endeavored to make his escape to the barn rather than to come into the sitting-room at the worship hour, and he felt a desire to have a good heart-to-heart visit with John and to know just how he came to find the Lord. John was, therefore, very much surprised one day to hear that this good gentleman, of whom he had in the past been so fearful, was desiring to see him. But he was glad; for he, too, had felt a great desire to talk with Farmer Z, the one who was first to open his heart to a ray of heavenly sunshine.
"I have been hearing wonderful stories about you of late, my boy," the farmer said as John approached him; and as he took the young man's hand, his hearty handshake sent the blood tingling through John's veins. "Come," the farmer continued, "sit down and tell me what it was that brought about the change. My boy, I understand that you are already getting to be quite a preacher. Is it true?"
"Well, Mr. Z," John modestly replied, "I hardly know what answer to make, except that it was the work of my Savior. I am like the poor beggar who was blind—'one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.' The same Jesus that healed the blind man has opened my spiritual eyes, making me to see and understand what never before seemed possible."
Then as John related some of his Christian experiences, the farmer was made to wonder at the loving-kindness and the great mercy of his God.
"John," he said, as he looked into the beaming eyes of the young man and noted the boyish face but manly form (for there was scarcely a trace of the early dissipation left), "I see that you have found the genuine article. God has worked a miracle in your life, and I guess he wants you to go and tell the world about it. How is it, my boy? Do you feel like preaching the gospel?"
And then it was that John, in his simple, earnest manner, for which he was so loved and admired, said:
"Mr. Z, I feel as though some power within me is leading me about; and I long to tell everyone I meet of the Jesus, who so loved the lost world that He laid down His life upon the cross. It seems I can think of little else."
"That's it! That's it!" Farmer Z exclaimed; "God has put His Holy Spirit in your heart and has called you into His harvest-field to go forth and help spread the gospel. Go, my boy; and may God speed your footsteps in ways crowned with blessings of success. I rejoice with you in your calling and shall pray for you. When trials come your way—and they will—remember that there is always a light in God's window for the faithful, a light that will guide them safely home at last. Remember also that He has said, 'Be thou faithful unto death.'"
When the farmer bade John adieu, the sun had disappeared beyond the horizon and the crimson shades were gathering in the western sky. The landscape that stretched before him was beautiful. And while John was not unconscious of these beautiful surroundings, by his inner vision, which could not be limited by the vast prairie country with its varied possibilities, he looked upon another scene far beyond—he saw the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, once beheld by the sainted John; and he wondered what could be more grand and majestic.
John had at last developed into a noble-hearted Christian, whose greatest desire in life was to please his God, and to spend his time wholly in God's service; and one day a few years later he stood on the deck of a large Atlantic steamer and waved farewell to his friends on the shore. He was bound for a far-distant land; God was sending him as a missionary to carry the gospel to the people of another country.
His large brown eyes, sorrowful no longer, were dimmed by tears of farewell; but the tears only made them shine the brighter. They witnessed to the gladness of his heart; and to the eagerness within his bosom pushing him forward.
John had at last become a man after God's own heart.