Saint Patrick and Jonah

Today is Saint Patrick’s Day.  When I was young it seemed to be a day of wearing green, pinching those who didn’t wear their green.  As an adult it was a day to party, eat and drink things that were never intended to be green but were altered for this day.

When I became a Christian not to much changed.  Until I researched who St. Patrick was and what he had done.

Saint Patrick died on March 17th – Wow!  That alone is humbling, we aren’t celebrating his birthday so maybe less on the green cupcakes and green beer, eh?

Patrick was taken by Irish Warriors out of his British home and given as a slave when he was 16 years old (NOT a sweet 16 by any means).  He said it drew him CLOSER to God.  I would’ve possibly gone the other way blaming God or deciding there must not be a God.  He was treated poorly, he was a slave.  At the age of 20 he had a message from God that he would escape and a few days later was able to escape.

Upon arriving back in Britain he went into religious studies and became a bishop.  He then felt the Lord telling him to return to Ireland and share the gospel.

I would call this loving your enemies.  I think of Jonah who hadn’t ever been a slave in Nineveh and how he did NOT want to go preach salvation to a bunch of heathens.  After a three day time out in the guts of a fish he came to repentance and chose to obey God, and yet he was still more thankful for a tree that gave him shade than for souls that found salvation in repentance.  My how I have a lot in common with Jonah.

St. Patrick went back to the place in which he was captive, enslaved and wronged in many ways.  He preached and taught and loved and didn’t just go to spend a short time he devoted his life to loving the Irish the way Christ loves them.  He could only do this through the love of God that he believed and embraced.  He was dead to his own life, pride, rights, ideas and ideals or vengeance.  He knew how to die to self and live for Christ.

How now shall I live?
I will begin by blessing those who curse me.  I’m being for real here – instead of instigating or retaliating when cut off in traffic or in any other way annoyed by drivers who….(you can finish the sentence).  I will bless them.  I will actually ask Holy Spirit to nudge me as I’m about to vocalize a long string of self righteous condemnation and instead of putting a curse on that driver and all who they hold dear I will pray for them.  I will imagine that wherever they are going is a matter of life and death and they deserve to be ahead of me.  I will smile at Jesus and thank Him for giving me an opportunity to live out my faith and prove myself to be a worthy soldier of Christ who indeed has fruits of the Spirit such as PATIENCE, LOVING KINDNESS, GENTLENESS….

Although I don’t consider other drivers true enemies I must start somewhere, I must renew my mind, train my heart and tame my tongue.

For some of us we need to start with just blessing and loving those we say we love, like family, friends and our church family.  Maybe you’ve got that down pretty well – so like me you’re on to those annoying drivers, shoppers in line who get in the 12 items or less line with 30 items, they write a check and don’t even bring it out of their handbag to begin writing it until the transaction is completely finished.  I am hoping to get past these things and move into a place of truly loving enemies.  Those who have harmed me deeply, those who not only harm me but don’t care and would do it again given the opportunity.  I know I’m like Jonah but will I raise the bar and be so transformed that my life reflects Jesus the way Saint Patrick did?

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day, the day of his death celebrated as an example.