Little do we seem to know, but there’s more to St. Patrick’s Day than pots of gold, shamrock-shaped sugar cookies, and “Kiss me, I’m Irish” T-shirts. It’s a holiday that celebrates something with much greater eternal importance.
It celebrates the first missionary to bring the good news about life in Jesus Christ to the unreached people in Ireland.
Patrick’s story is actually a testimony of the power of forgiveness and a reminder of the awesome things that can happen with our lives when we turn control over to God.
When Patrick was a teenager, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken from his home in Britain to Ireland to work, enslaved. After six years in Ireland, Patrick began to sense God speaking to him — calling him to leave Ireland and return to Britain. He escaped captivity and made it home to Britain where he had another encounter with God calling him back to Ireland — this time not as a captive, but as a missionary.
After years of schooling and training, Patrick returned to Ireland to encourage the Christians already there and to begin spreading the good news of life in Jesus Christ to the rest of Ireland.
A huge obstacle for Patrick as he began to preach about Jesus was the Druids — the leaders of an influential, religious and intellectual group in Ireland. Until the Irish people began converting to Christianity, most people practiced a pagan (not related to God) religion that worshiped nature.
Patrick has been said to have “driven out the snakes” from all of Ireland. This does not mean literal snakes, but rather the Druids and pagan religions. Patrick reclaimed the country for the glory of the Lord.
Imagine how different our world might have been if Patrick had allowed bitterness towards those in Ireland who had taken him captive affect God’s call on his life? Patrick would have had every excuse to tell God no and to send someone else, but he forgave them and allowed God to burn compassion in his heart to bring the message of hope that is Jesus to the Irish people.
What are you holding on to that might be affecting God’s call on your life?