This week all around the world people will celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. I never was much interested in it until I traveled to Ireland on a mission trip several years ago. Prior to the trip I decided to read up on Irish history, and was really taken with Patrick.
We actually know a good deal about Patrick through his autobiography Confessions. He grew up in a comfortable and religious setting in fifth century England. His father served as a deacon in their local congregation. But as a sixteen-year-old all this changed for Patrick. A band of Irish pirates raided his village and kidnapped Patrick along with the family’s household servants. Carried off to Ireland, Patrick was sold as a slave to a tribe of Druids who forced him work as pig herder.
In the pig pin of life Patrick began to see the filth of his own heart. In his Confessions he confessed:
“I was sixteen and knew not the true God, but in a strange land the Lord opened my unbelieving eyes, and I was converted …”
Patrick’s story continues as he miraculously escapes his captors and finds his way back home. Back on his beloved British soil Patrick was not inclined to have anything to do with his former captors again. But God wasn’t through transforming Patrick.
It was through a dream that God spoke to Patrick, calling him to return to the land where he was once a slave … this time as preacher of the Gospel. He would spend the rest of his life proclaiming the Good News to Irish pagans who knew nothing of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
So Patrick escaped human captivity only to be once again captured by the love and grace of Christ. In his Confessions he wrote:
“And I am certain of this: I was a dumb stone lying squashed in the mud; the Mighty and Merciful God came, dug me out and set me on top of the wall. Therefore, I praise him and ought to render him something for his wonderful benefits to me both now and in eternity.”