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.