You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139:1-6 NIV
March 17th is marked as St. Patrick’s Day. Now before you stop reading this, I want to encourage you to throw out all the counterfeit and earthly connotations that culture has connected to this day as it has with other Holy Days celebrated by the Church.
Let’s take a moment to briefly review the real reason, the spiritual reason, for this day. I wrote to you last year about who Saint Patrick really was; living in the fifth century he was kidnapped by Irish pirates from his home in Britain and held in slavery in Ireland for six years, when he escaped and made his way home to become a priest. Then God called him to go back to Ireland as a missionary and he obeyed, converting thousands of “pagan” people to Christianity, and using a three-leaf clover to help explain the Trinity.
This is a very condensed summary of what was a beautifully obedient life fully committed to Christ’s calling to “Go and make disciples.” As I stood by his grave in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland last summer, I thought about how Saint Patrick could have stayed in Britain and served God in his own church, city, and county; his own “Jerusalem and Judea,” but he willingly went back to a place of pain. No one would have blamed him for turning his back on the Irish, but he went to his “Samaria and ends of the earth” and loved the people he could have hated. God used him to reach thousands of souls, and ultimately throughout the centuries because of his work, millions of souls were saved.
St. Patrick is noted for having penned an amazing prayer known as “Saint Patrick’s Breastplate” that was eventually put to music for a stunning hymn sung in churches and cathedrals across the world on St. Patrick’s Day. You can look up the entire prayer online but today I want to encourage you to meditate on and pray the final stanza written out below.
Look back at it to ponder and pray all of the Scriptural truths found in it on days when you feel alone, afraid, anxious, weak or wondering what your purpose or mission is in life and be reminded that Jesus never leaves us of forsakes us. Jesus is always with us and for us; He has gone before you, authored your days and leads you on paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. He surrounds you, He is your refuge and rest, your strength and joy, your protection, provision and purpose. We should pray and live our lives; our thoughts, emotions, attitudes, words, and deeds fueled by Christ in us, and the assurance of our salvation filling us and overflowing from us in such a way that when people think, speak, see or hear us they immediately think, speak see and hear Christ. Oh that we would live and love in a way that people see and seek Christ because we crossed paths! That is what we should think of on St. Patrick’s Day and every day.
Would you please pray the final paragraph of St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer with me?
“Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me, Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me, Christ in every eye that sees me, Christ in every ear that hears me. I arise today Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity, Through belief in the threeness, Through confession of the oneness, Of the Creator of Creation.”
Lord, incline our heart and thoughts to recognize, receive and reflect You in every moment of every day. As St. Patrick’s prayer and life inspires us, may we continually pray and live in You, through You and for Your great name and glory. In Your wonderful and powerful name we always pray, Amen!
Serving Him with gladness,
NDP Task Force