So, are you wearing green?
I once met a man who verbally dressed me down for wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day because I am not Catholic. “Protestants wear orange,” he scolded me. “What do plain old God fearing, Jesus loving, Holy Spirit living people wear?” I asked him. My sauciness earned me a smile from him.
I wonder what St. Patrick himself would wear. Did you just say green? Honestly, I don’t believe Patrick would wear green and subscribe to all of this “saint” stuff. I just cannot reconcile the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day with the man who wrote St. Patrick’s Confessio. No, the man who penned, “I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many…” (Confessio, 1) would not like to have a day celebrating himself with green beer, leprechauns, corned beef hash, and rivers full of green dye.
At the age of 16, Patrick was taken captive and sold into slavery in Ireland. His thoughts did not turn bitter; instead he understood better what is God’s unquestionable authority and deep love:
I did not, indeed, know the true God, and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our deserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts…And the Lord brought down on us the fury of his being and scattered us among many nations, even to the ends of the earth, where I, in my smallness, am now to be found among foreigners.(1) And there the Lord opened my mind to an awareness of my unbelief, in order that, even so late, I might remember my transgressions and turn with all my heart to the Lord my God…He guarded me before I knew him, and before I came to wisdom and could distinguish between good and evil. He protected me and consoled me as a father does for his son.(2) That is why I cannot be silent – nor would it be good to do so – about such great blessings and such a gift that the Lord so kindly bestowed in the land of my captivity. This is how we can repay such blessings, when our lives change and we come to know God, to praise and bear witness to his great wonders before every nation under heaven.(3)
Patrick surrendered to God while he served as a slave in the wilderness of Ireland. He learned their language and he learned the ins and outs of their pagan religion, but he spent most of this time in a constant state of prayer in the spirit which rendered him spiritually full, never tired, and always protected. In this, he kept himself pure and faithful to God. Later, Patrick was taken out of captivity and eventually brought back to Britain, but Patrick was called back to Ireland to bring the gospel to the people who had once been his captors. Many were converted through the Holy Spirit’s moving and Patrick’s efforts, but Patrick was impatient with where he started spiritually:
…I am presuming to try to grasp in my old age what I did not gain in my youth because my sins prevented me from making what I had read my own…I was taken prisoner as a youth…before I knew what I should seek and what I should avoid. That is why, today, I blush and am ashamed to expose my ignorance, because I can’t express myself with the brief words I would like in my heart and soul.(10)
I can relate to Patrick. I’ve allowed myself to consider all of the time lost while I wandered lost in my wilderness. I’ve compared myself and felt low when I consider men and women of God who’ve walked with the Lord since their youth. I’ve lamented and mourned before God, and I’ve wanted to make up the difference in time and understanding. But for that very reason I was shown mercy that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in Him and receive eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:6
In all of this I have been brought to the faith that I am His. I am me in Him. I can be patient with myself because He is my core. He chose me in His time and for His glory, and He actually delights in me. And, before this, He watched over me and kept me from harm; He allowed me to know struggles that are now treasures to share in this new life.
My heart cries out for God as in Isaiah 26:9, My soul yearns for You in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for You…. When I’m called to minister, when I’m given something difficult to speak in love, and when I am given an opportunity to share the truth of the Gospel, I remind myself that God chose me. He saw the person I am now becoming even when I was still dead and decaying in my sin; not because of what I’d done, but for His glory, and I am eternally grateful to share this with others. I believe this is what Patrick felt as well. We have purpose in His kingdom, and in Him we have all we need being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. (Colossians 1:11) This is true no matter what color we display. I wear green because it is my favorite color. I wear orange, I wear brown, but God is my true color.
Father God, the Spirit You give us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) May we preach the word within our family and circles of influence. May we be prepared in season and out of season. May we correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2) And may we begin with ourselves. Lord, thank You. I love You. Amen.
*All St. Patrick quotes taken from St. Patrick’s Confessio at http://www.confessio.ie.