Remember The Saint

I’m a fan of Saint Patrick’s Day. Any holiday that has corned beef, potatoes, cabbage, a good dark beer (by that I mean something other than Guinness), as it’s main course, is a pretty good holiday in my books.

But let’s not forget, it’s important to remember the saint.

This morning, with my kids decked out in green,  we all gathered around the kitchen table to read about Saint Patrick. The story of his life is remarkable, and should be of great encouragement to any Christian.

The Life of Patrick

Saint Patrick is believed to have lived from 389-461 A.D. He was born in Britain, and lived on its western coast–a part of Britain that was always susceptible to attack from Irish pirates. Inevitably, it happened. One day, at the age of 16, while Patricks parents were in town, the Irish raiders attacked, capturing Patrick and thousands of others from surrounding villages. They would all be dragged back to Ireland and forced to be slaves.

Initially, Patrick was infuriated. Nearly starving and always cold (and certainly without corned beef and beer), he hated the Irish and wanted only to get away from them.

But after some time, Patrick’s heart began to change. Though not entirely sure of what was happening, he was suddenly and painfully aware of his own sin and unbelief. The truths his parents taught him about God as a child were churning in his mind. The Spirit was working deeply in his heart, showing him his own need for salvation. As Patrick’s heart grew softer, the anger and bitterness that he once experienced was replaced with a deep awareness of the unwavering grace and hand of God which had sustained him through the difficult life he was now living. It was in this season of darkness that Patrick experienced the loving hand of the Father and the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

After six years in the northern part of Ireland, Patrick finally had the chance to go back to Britain. Though risky, he snuck onto a ship that would carry him back to his homeland. Patrick was excited to be home and rejoiced at the opportunity to reunite with his family and friends, but life was not the same. Patrick couldn’t get the people of Ireland out of his mind.

One night, while Patrick was sleeping, he dreamed that the people of Ireland were asking him to come back. Another night he dreamed that the voices asking him to come back to Ireland was actually the voice of Jesus telling him that Ireland was where he was to return.

For the next several years, despite the disapproval of family and friends, Patrick trained, studied, and prepared to return to Ireland as a missionary to the Irish people.

When Patrick returned to Ireland, he experienced almost immediate success. A local ruler, by the name of Dichu, heard the gospel and was baptized. After him, thousands more followed, turning away from worshipping pagan idols to worshipping the true and living God. Patrick’s mission wasn’t easy though. As time went on, he met regular opposition and anticipated his death on an almost daily basis. Patrick was robbed, beaten, taken back into slavery, and nearly killed on 12 different occasions. He did not waiver though. Patrick said, “Daily I expect murder, fraud, or captivity, but I fear none of these things. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty, who rules everywhere...as the prophet says, ‘Cast your cares upon God, and He shall sustain you.’”

Daily I expect murder, fraud, or captivity, but I fear none of these things. I have cast myself into the hands of God Almighty, who rules everywhere...as the prophet says, ‘Cast your cares upon God, and He shall sustain you.

Patrick’s life as a missionary to Ireland made a lasting impact. He fought fiercely against the Irish slave trade, and persisted in preaching the gospel. In Patrick’s 40 years as a missionary to the Irish, thousands upon thousands of people became followers of Jesus. His life is an example to us of the life of sacrificial service that Christ has called each of his disciples to.

Remember The Saint

Hebrews 13:3 says, “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”

Saint Patrick is a man of great faith who has gone before us. He was one who lived what Jesus taught, and gave himself for the sake of others. Patrick understood the words of Jesus: "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it" (Luke 9:23-24).

So tonight, I hope you enjoy your corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and beer. I know I will. But as you do, don't forget to remember the saint.

Shortcomings

Some days I simply feel like I'm falling short. Like the Apostle Paul, I don't do the things I know I'm supposed to do, and I do the things I know I'm not supposed to (Romans 7). I'm often at war against my flesh and I often come up short. 

This morning I ran across a prayer in my Valley of Vision prayer book. It's a great little book filled with prayers from the Puritans. If you don't have it, I highly recommend getting it as it is a great prayer devotional. The old english language is beautifully poetic and causes one to think deeply about God and the Christian life. I'm going to share the prayer I read this morning. It's called Shortcomings.

Shortcomings

O Living God,
I bless thee that I see the worst of my heart as well as the best of it, that I can sorrow for those sins that carry me from thee, that it is they deep and dear mercy to threaten punishment so that I may return, pray, live.
My sin is to look on my faults and be discouraged, or to look on my good and be puffed up.
I fall short of thy glory every day by spending hours unprofitably, by thinking that the things I do are good, when they are not done to thy end, nor spring from the rules of thy word. 
My sin is to fear what never will be; I forget to submit to thy will, and fail to be quiet there.
But Scripture teaches me that thy active will reveals a steadfast purpose on my behalf, and this quietens my soul, and makes me love thee. 
Keep me always in the understanding that saints mourn more for sin than other men, for when they see how great is thy wrath against sin, and how Christ's death alone pacifies that wrath, that makes them mourn the more. 
Help me to see that although I am in the wilderness it is not all briars and barrenness. I have bread from heaven, streams from the rock, light by day, fire by night, thy dwelling place and thy mercy seat. 
I am sometimes discouraged by thy way, but though winding and trying it is safe and short; Death dismays me, but my great high priest stands in its waters, and will open me a passage, and beyond is a better country. 
While I live let my life be exemplary.
When I die may my end be peace.