When you think of Saint Patrick’s Day, you likely think of shamrocks or sporting green, but Patrick’s life was full of drama and adventure rather than luck and leprechauns.
When Patrick was 16, he was captured by Irish raiders and taken from his homeland (possibly Britain), and sold as a slave to a chieftain in Ireland. (And you thought your teenage years were rough.) For over six years, he worked as a shepherd. While roaming the hills, he turned to God for comfort, becoming a devout Christian. Then, one day, in a dream, God told Patrick it was time to leave Ireland. So Patrick walked nearly 200 miles to the coast where he boarded a ship and escaped to Britain.
After returning home, Patrick had another dream, in which an angel told him he was to go back to Ireland as a missionary to the people who held him captive. And Patrick went.
It’s easy to be inspired by others’ accomplishments rather than by the journey they took to get there.
Today, Patrick is credited with popularizing Christianity among the Irish. He started schools and churches that impacted literacy rates as well as the spirituality of the Irish. He taught that women and men were equal in God’s eyes, and some sources say he kept the Sabbath. His life made an astonishing impact for the gospel.
God puts ambitions in everyone’s hearts. Nehemiah rebuilt the temple. Moses freed his people. Paul took the gospel to the Gentiles. You probably have a big dream too. Maybe you’ve been working on it for quite some time. Your question right now may be, How can I live my life selflessly for God?
When we’re wondering if our dreams will ever become a reality, it’s easy to be inspired by others’ accomplishments rather than by the journey they took to get there. Moses spent forty years as a shepherd before freeing a single slave. Paul spent three years thinking and studying in the Arabian desert before writing the majority of the New Testament. Jesus Himself spent years woodturning before He turned water into wine. And Patrick spent 15 years at a monastery in France before returning to Ireland to liberate his previous captors with the gospel.
Sometimes you have to go to France before you can go to Ireland. Sometimes you have to work as a shepherd before you’re ready to tend God’s dreams for you. If you’re in a preparation season, don’t run away from it. Instead, be present and faithful, for “in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:9).
Allie is a 2012 ARISE graduate and on-staff writer and communications assistant for Light Bearers. She is fascinated by the intersection of faith and the creative process and enjoys poetry. When she’s not watching a good movie with her friends, she enjoys narrating life with mediocre accents.