God is a Gardener - Hugh B Brown
". . . about John the Apostle, handed down and preserved in memory. When, on the death of the tyrant, he (John) passed over to Ephesus from the Island of Patmos, he used to make missionary journeys also to neighboring gentile cities, in some places to appoint bishops, and in some to set in order whole churches and . . . to appoint one of those indicated by the Spirit.
On his arrival then at one of the cities at no great distance, of which some even mention the name, . . . he saw a youth of stalwart frame and winning countenance, and impetuous spirit, and said to the bishop, 'I entrust to thee this youth with all earnestness, calling Christ and the Church to witness.' The bishop accepted the trust, and made all the requisite promises, and the apostle renewed his injunction and adjuration. He then returned to Ephesus, and the elder taking home with him the youth who had been entrusted to his care, maintained, cherished, and finally baptized him. After this he abandoned further care and protection of him, considering that he had affixed to him the seal of the Lord as a perfect amulet against evil. Thus prematurely neglected, the youth was corrupted by certain idle companions of his own age, who were familiar with evil, and who first led him astray by many costly banquets, and then took him out by night with them to share in their felonious proceedings, finally demanding his cooperation in some worse crime. First familiarized with guilt, and then, from the force of his character, starting aside from the straight path like some mighty steed that seizes the bit between its teeth; he rushed towards headlong ruin, and utterly abandoning the divine salvation, gathered his worst comrades around him, and became a most violent, bloodstained, and reckless bandit-chief.
Not long afterwards John was recalled to the city, and after putting other things in order said, 'Come now, O bishop, restore to me the deposit which I and the Saviour entrusted to thee, with the witness of the Church over which thou dost preside.' At first the bishop in his alarm mistook the meaning of the metaphor, but the apostle said, 'I demand back the young man and the soul of the brother.' Then groaning from the depth of his heart and shedding tears, 'He is dead,' said the bishop. 'How and by what death?' 'He is dead to God! For he has turned out wicked and desperate, and, to sum up all, a brigand; and now, instead of the Church he has seized the mountain, with followers like himself.' Then the apostle, rending his robe and beating his head, with loud wailing said, 'A fine guardian of our brother's soul did I leave! Give me a horse and a guide.'
Instantly, . . . he rode away . . . from the Church and arriving at the brigands' outposts, was captured without flight or resistance, but crying, 'For this I have come. Lead me to your chief.' The chief awaited him in his armour, but when he recognized John as he approached, he was struck with shame and turned to fly [flight]. But John pursued him as fast as he could, forgetful of his age, crying out, 'Why my son, dost thou fly [flee] from thine own father, unarmed, aged as he is? Pity me, . . . fear not . . . stay! believe! Christ sent me.' But he on hearing these words first stood with downcast gaze, then flung away his arms, then trembling, began to weep bitterly, and embraced the old man when he came up to him, pleading with his groans, . . . but the apostle pledging himself . . . led him back to the Church and praying for him . . . and wrestling with him in earnest fastings . . . did not depart, as they say, till he restored him to the bosom of the Church."