If you are like me, St. Patrick’s Day might be about watching a parade, wearing green or for some, having a few drinks at the pub.
It is part of human nature to forget all-together or do a little historic revisionism as time passes for significant events. You know, every year the fish story becomes more amazing. This is the case with St. Patrick’s Day. It was meant to honor Patrick and the incredible legacy he left, not just to celebrate Irish heritage.
Patrick was born British and lived 385-461. His parents were very religious, but he wanted nothing to do with their faith. As a teenager, his life dramatically changed when an Irish mob abducted and sold him into slave labor in Ireland. For six years, he served as a shepherd watching over his master’s sheep. During those years of quiet suffering, he came to know the God of His parents. Eventually, he was led by God to escape slavery in miraculous fashion. He made his way back home to Britain. There, Patrick prepared for a career in ministry. In time, he was convicted by God that he must return to the land of his slavery and spread the good news of Christ. He boarded a boat that took him to the shores of Ireland for a second time, this time of his own choosing. The day he stepped onto Irish shores began 29 years of a legendary mission.
Ireland in Patrick’s day was an evil and dangerous place. Knowing this in advance, Patrick recounted in his writings, The Confession saying, “I am ready to be murdered, betrayed, enslaved — whatever may come my way.” It was an epic battle of light versus darkness, which made for mythical type stories that followed Patrick’s work. Upon his death in 461, light had won the battle setting a new course for the Irish. God used Patrick to see more than 120,000 people baptized and 300 churches planted.
St. Patrick’s Day is about remembering two things: 1) Remember what God can do through someone who is wholly surrendered to Him; 2) Remember how God loved Patrick enough to rescue him from slavery and how He loved the Irish enough to send Patrick with His good news.
Remember the real Patrick and the good news which changed a nation. “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15). Like Patrick, may Jesus be your hope for today.
Clint Decker is president of Great Awakenings Inc. in Clay Center. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org