Le’ Fhe’ile Padraig Sona Dhuit! (Happy St. Patrick's Day)
Most people do not know the true reason we should be celebrating St. Patrick. Its not because he drove the snakes out of Ireland, if you have ever been you would see the cold climate and rocky ground make it unsuitable for reptiles. Its not because he was a native son who did good things. Patrick was born in 385 in Roman Britannia in the modern-day town of Dumbarton, Scotland
I mark St. Patrick’s day not because it’s fun, or because of legends, my heritage, or my travels to Ireland but because he was an example of a life laid down for others and what God is able to do when we choose to follow Him unreservedly.
At the age of 16 Patrick was kidnapped from his home by Irish pirates. When the pirates landed on the Irish coast, they took Patrick about 200 miles inland where he was enslaved as a shepherd and farm laborer. Six years passed and Patrick had either a vivid dream or a vision in which he was shown an escape route. Emboldened, Patrick made his break form his captors, traveling back over the 200 miles to the shoreline. As he approached the docks, a British ship stood waiting. The sails unfurled and Patrick was taken home. But he didn’t stay long. Before he was a prisoner, Patrick’s Christian faith meant little to him. That changed during his captivity. His previously ambivalent faith galvanized and served to buoy him through those long, dark days. Now that he was back in his homeland he committed to his faith in earnest. He became a priest and soon felt a tremendous burden for the people that had kidnapped him. So he returned to Ireland with a mission. Patrick had no less of a goal than seeing pagan Ireland converted. These efforts did not set well with Loegaire (or Leoghaire), the pagan king of pagan Ireland. Patrick faced danger and even threats on his life. Yet, despite these setbacks, Patrick persisted. Eventually the king converted and was baptized by Patrick and much of the people of Ireland followed suit. Patrick rid Ireland of marauding ways and a cultural and civil barbarianism by bringing not only Christianity to Ireland, but by bringing a whole new ethic based on the love of Jesus.
How easy would it have been to dismiss the thought to return. How amazing to allow God to give you a love for the very people who abused you, kept you from your family and who meant you only harm. Yet he went. God used that choice to change nations.
I hope to be a person who chooses to allow God to pour through my life in such a way that those around me, even those who mean harm are forever changed by His love and that is why I celebrate this day.