Tuesday night for one of the bedtime stories, I read aloud Patrick, Patron Saint of Ireland by Tomie dePaola. I knew the wee version of St. Patrick's biography, but I didn't realize how many important details I was missing until I read the children's book! The lessons from St. Patrick's life can be found in the Bible in the lives of Joseph, David, and Paul (to name a few), yet I think it's neat when we can see how these truths never stop being applicable:
1. When you think you're all alone, you're not. Patrick was a Christian, from a noble British family, when Irish raiders captured him and took him to Ireland to be sold as a slave. He was made to be a shepherd, a life very different from his life at home! In the solitary life herding sheep, he used the time to pray and draw closer to God.
2. God's answers to our prayers aren't always tidy or immediate. God provided a way for Patrick to escape after six years of praying for deliverance, but it was to the Continent. Patrick had two years of trials trying to get back home before he was successful.
3. God's call to us may be radical, but the methods may be mundane. Not long after getting back home (finally!) Patrick had a dream which made it clear that he was to go back to his place of slavery and bring the Gospel. But Patrick did not leave right away for Ireland! Instead he left to study so that he could be an effective missionary. He sold all his worldly goods and bought what he needed to accomplish his work. When he left for Ireland, he went with a boatload of people to help him, and he was a bishop! Bringing the Gospel to Ireland was radical. What Patrick did to get to that point, was not.
4. Even after you've "arrived," the battle isn't over. The trials that St. Patrick faced didn't end when he arrived on Ireland's shores, armed with the Good News of Christ. He came close to death twelve times! He lost friends and faced many hardships. As C. S. Lewis put it, we were born into a world at war. We may have seasons of rest, but I can't think of a single Christian hero whose life could be defined by "easy living."
I am certain that there is more to St. Patrick's life than what was revealed in this sweet little book! But these lessons from storytime, made my heart glad. It's so easy to put St. Patrick on a shiny, ivory pedestal, but the truth is that he was just an ordinary man who loved God, pushed on through the trials, and was diligent in pursuing the call in practical (and what us moderns would see as "boring") methods.
I've heard it said that perseverance is one of the hallmarks of a mature Christian. As I think of it, I can see how all the lessons from St. Patrick could be summed up by that word.