Devotional: March 17, 2021
The door is open to all the outsiders. And we’re on our way through it, following orders, doing what God commanded when he said,
I’ve set you up as light to all nations. You’ll proclaim salvation to the four winds and seven seas!”
Acts 13: 46-47 The Message
Today is Saint Patrick’s Day! Are you wearing green? How do you celebrate St. Patrick’s day? Will you be eating corned beef and cabbage for dinner? Fun questions to think about.
Given all that surrounds our March 17th Saint Patrick’s celebrations, it can be easy to forget the real person behind the day. A former slave, Saint Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary, where he ended up having an enormous positive influence upon the Irish people. All of this took place more than a thousand years before the Protestant Reformation.
At the age of 16, he had been kidnapped by pirates and taken to Ireland. Escaping six years later, and went back home to Britain. Yet in a dream, he heard God calling him back to Ireland to spread the word of God.
It is not exaggerating to say that Saint Patrick truly was a “light to the Gentiles.” He brought gospel truth to a country and a people who sorely needed to hear Christ’s words of salvation.
Three qualities marked his life, which may have contributed to his success on the mission field. They are:
Humility: He was unsure his limited formal education was up to the task. Yet in spite of his doubts, he humbly obeyed the Lord. His humility shines through he Confessio. At one point he says, “I have long thought to write, but up to now I have hesitated, because I feared what people would say. This is because I did not learn as others did, who drank in equally well both the law and the sacred writings.”
Honesty: We know most of our information about his life and ministry from two books, one of which is his spiritual autobiography, “Confessio”. The book opens with these words, “I am Patrick, a sinner, a simple country person, and the least of all believers”. Written in very rustic Latin, Patrick’s confession is extraordinarily honest. Scholars believe it may very well be the second greatest spiritual autobiography ever written, after Augustine’s Confessions.
Thankfulness: While some supposed his success might make him proud and arrogant, the truth is that Patrick was always thankful and grateful to God. One article described him as “pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument for God’s love and forgiveness. The Irish by the multitudes had been worshiping “idols and unclean things”. Now, through Patrick’s words they heard God’s message and became known as “the people of God.””
Patrick possessed other good qualities as well, including diplomacy and what we might term “emotional intelligence.”
Patrick was only one man, but his love for Christ transformed him into a light for those who were in the darkness. Patrick truly became Christ’s light to the Gentiles of Ireland, transforming a country of pagans into a Christian nation. Remarkably, all this happened in the span of one generation!
What might God accomplish through us, if we let His light shine through our lives?
That is a good question for us all to ask ourselves on Saint Patrick’s Day. In fact, it is a great question to ask ourselves every single day of our lives!
Lord, thank You for Your amazing grace and wisdom to all. Forgive me when I doubt my abilities, or my background, like Patrick. Yet I thank You for the opportunities You provide for me to be a messenger to others of Your Word. Help me reflect to Your light into their lives! Let me trust You, knowing that You will work through me. Like Patrick, give me the confidence to be bold in my belief of You. I pray this prayer in the name of the one who encouraged us to go and make disciples of all nations, Your son, and my Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.