This past weekend was St. Patrick’s Day. With the coming of this day, some think of three-leafed clovers, leprechauns dancing, or people wearing green. But I think it’s good to remember there was a real guy named Patrick in the 5th century. And guess what? He wasn’t even from Ireland. He lived in what is today Scotland. When he was 16, pirate invaders from Ireland came into his village and wiped it out. He was spared but dragged away to pagan Ireland to serve as a slave. There he spent a lot of time in the fields watching sheep. That’s where he met God and learned to pray deeply, and that’s where in one intense experience with God, he felt the Lord telling him to get out of Ireland, which he did, escaping to go back home. Later, Patrick felt God calling him to go back to Ireland-not to take revenge on them, but to bring the love and hope of Jesus.
At that time, Christianity was being snuffed out in Europe and all over the world. The flame of Christ-following faith was nearly extinguished. But God worked through this escaped but returning prisoner of war to reignite the flame of faith in Jesus in one of the most unlikely places on earth: the spiritually dark and pagan-infested Ireland. Today, many historians believe it is not an exaggeration to say that if it were not for Patrick and Celtic Christianity, Christianity may have been erased from the planet.
Now, there is much to appreciate in this story. For one, Patrick believed that we as Christians have something worth sharing, even at great hardship. Patrick didn’t change his message, but he was willing to adapt and change to reach the people of Ireland. He for instance, adapted pagan traditions and preached in their native language all in order to reach the people who once enslaved him.
Patrick’s story also reminds us how important it is to listen to God. A worldwide movement of God began in quiet moments in the wilderness with Patrick. In other words, I think Patrick’s life shows us that all true ministry starts with intimacy with Christ. And you know what? Your life is about more than just “your dreams and plans.” No matter who you are or how old you are, you never know how God may want to use you! Be ready to listen for God’s voice. Then do what he says.
Patrick’s story is also an incredible reminder of the difference one person can make when God is working in and through them. Nobody in those days would ever have believed you if you said Ireland could be turned toward Christ. It was the ultimate lost cause, steeped in superstitious darkness. But with God, don’t ever count anyone or any place out. There are no lost causes.
You see, God is in the business of transforming us and the world that he loves, and Easter reminds us of that. Easter reminds us that in the resurrection of Jesus, God’s work of renewing the world has begun. He is indeed, resurrecting hope in people and places thought to be lost causes. Do you see it? Do you, like Patrick, see the Easter message that YOU have something worth sharing, even at great hardship? Do you see how important it is for YOU to listen to God and do what he says? Do you see the difference YOU can make when God’s resurrecting power’ is working in and through YOU?
Thanking God for YOU!