I love a redemption story.
I love when the Lord, the great promise-keeper, gently brushes away the dirt and rust from a life that seems so far gone and pulls forth something majestic from underneath, for His glory.
Such is the life of St. Patrick.
So many people think March 17th is about wearing green to avoid getting a pinch, loading up on shamrocks and circling up to the local pub.
Somehow we’ve forgotten who St. Patrick really was.
How his life was restored…. How he changed a country for the cause of Christ…
How his, was a story of true redemption.
I want us to remember.
His story is beautiful, fascinating and worth celebrating well.
Patrick was born in England in 389 into a family of strong, active faith. His parents were believing Christians, and his grandfather was a minister, but as a boy, he rejected the faith of his family. And then one day, as if it were a scene from a Hollywood movie, his life was changed forever. Unbelievably, when Patrick was 16, one day while playing on the rocky shores of an English beach, he was kidnapped by Irish pirates. He was taken away to Ireland and sold into slavery.
Patrick was made to live as a slave for six years.
He was taken. He was stolen from his family at sixteen years old… just a boy and made to be a slave.
It was in his lonely, terrifying first year in the new country of Ireland, working as a slave that he remembered the faith of his parents and grandparents back in England.
“I was sixteen years old and knew not the true God. But in that strange land, God opened my unbelieving eyes, and, altogether late, I called my sins to mind and was converted with my whole heart to the Lord my God who regarded my low estate, had pity on my youth and ignorance, and consoled me as a father consoles his children.” -St. Patrick
It was in a season of bondage, praying every day for freedom, that Patrick developed a true and personal relationship with God.
After six years in slavery, Patrick eventually broke free and escaped. He literally ran for 200 miles and finally boarded a boat that eventually took him home to England.
Patrick’s family was overjoyed to have him home, and he felt like he was breaking the chains from those years stolen from him in Ireland. He was ready to begin a new life; however, once he arrived, he began having unusual dreams. He started to have dreams in which he saw the children of Ireland calling him back. In his dreams, he saw himself teaching them about God’s redeeming and restoring love. God began drawing him back to the war-torn land and the broken people that had once held him as a slave.
In 432, after receiving training as a minister in France, Patrick returned to Ireland by his own free will.
In the greatest act of selflessness, Patrick returned to the land of his captors to tell them about the greatest freedom.
By faith, and with complete forgiveness, after everything they had taken from him, he made a choice to go back to Ireland to give them Jesus.
For nearly 30 years Patrick gave his life away preaching the gospel and teaching in Ireland. It was a land of strife… of warring tribes, null of faith or religion. Missionaries had tried to reach these people before, but it wasn’t until Patrick, who was familiar with their Celtic customs and traditions, shared with them that they understood. Often sharing in such an unstable place, he was put into very dangerous situations, but in large part they knew he had returned to them out of compassion, so the Irish people had a willing ear to hear his message of a Redeeming God.
St. Patrick was well known for using the three-leaf clover, or shamrock, to explain the Trinity and the three-in-oneness of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. A nation that had once not known of God’s love at all was learning through this redeemed life, what true freedom was.
It’s amazing to see what God was weaving together all along in Patrick’s story… The beauty quietly being cultivated underneath the surface… The countless generations saved because of Patrick’s yielding and obedience to what seems like an unspeakable ask. There must have been a wound over his heart that, at one time, seemed too gaping to heal. Patrick’s story of restoration is beautiful, but his story of obedience is stunning. I want to let his unselfish bravery for the kingdom of God seep into my soul today, and to be reminded that no matter what I feel surrounded by, that being in the center of God’s will is always the safest place. I want to learn from St. Patrick, the worthwhile lesson that what I see from where I sit now, is most likely not the full picture of what God is orchestrating in the heavenlies, so its just always better to trust and obey. And also to never under-estimate what God can do with just one willing heart.
History tells us that by the time of St. Patrick’s death, he had started over 300 churches and baptized over 120,000 people!
What a breath-taking, beautiful example of a life surrendered to God’s redeeming, restoring work.
The prayer of St. Patrick has become so very dear to us over the years. Some precious friends even had a painting commissioned for us, bearing the words of the prayer, and we get to see it every day. It is such a beautiful expression and heart cry for every believer in Christ.
The Prayer of St. Patrick
Christ with us, Christ before us,
Christ behind us,
Christ in us, Christ beneath us,
Christ above us,
Christ on our right, Christ on our left,
Christ where we lie, Christ where we sit,
Christ where we arise,
Christ in the heart of every man
who thinks of us,
Christ in the mouth of every man
who speaks of us,
Christ in every eye that sees us,
Christ in every ear that hears us.
May we be inspired today by the redeemed life of this kingdom-minded man of God and celebrate God’s glory in His legacy.