It’s March! For all of us in northern Illinois, this just means that we’re in Winter Part Three (part one is pre-Christmas, part two is New Year’s through the end of February). The only date that breaks through the seemingly endless home stretch of winter is March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day! Although St. Patrick’s Day is now primarily known for other, less wholesome festivities, the man behind the date had a fascinating life that still inspires and motivates me in my walk with Jesus today.
Patrick (387-460 AD) was born in Britain into a nominally Christian family but was captured by Irish pirates at the age of 16 and forced into slavery in Ireland for six years. During this harrowing time, Patrick gave his life to Jesus Christ and was eventually able to escape from his slave masters, traveling over 200 miles by foot until he was able to find a ship back to Britain. When he arrived back in his hometown as a changed man he began preparing for ministry, eventually being appointed as a bishop. Remarkably, Patrick made his way back to Ireland where he served as a missionary. For the rest of his life, he shared the gospel with the largely pagan Irish people, baptizing thousands, planting churches, and training and ordaining Irish pastors. As the “apostle to Ireland”, Patrick changed the course of Ireland forever.
When I read Patrick’s story, I can’t help but wonder how history might be different if Patrick had given in to bitterness and despair. After all, he had been wrongly kidnapped and enslaved! What if he hadn’t cried out to God for help? Or what if after having escaped, he decided to take the safe and easy route by spending the rest of his days back home in Britain? I imagine (given the long history of strife between the British and Irish peoples) that history in that part of the world would be very different.
What about you? Look at the events in your past and the situations the Lord has sovereignly led you to right now. Are you tired, angry, or in despair? Are you wondering where God is in all of this? Perhaps God is up to something far more glorious than your comfort or even your safety. Could it be that God is preparing you to serve as an instrument in His perfect hands at just the right moment in just the right place? Our Lord is good and works all things for both His glory and our (ultimate) joy.
I leave you with this little snippet from The Prayer of Saint Patrick:
“I arise today through God’s strength to pilot me;
God’s might to uphold me,
God’s wisdom to guide me,
God’s ear to hear me,
God’s word to speak for me,
God’s hand to guard me,
God’s way to lie before me,
God’s shield to protect me afar and anear, alone or in a multitude.”