Whether you are Irish or not, whether you consider Patrick a saint or not, there is much to be learned from his extraordinary life and the way in which God used him for His glory.
Let’s start with the basics of the story: Patrick lived some time in the fourth and fifth century in what was then Roman-occupied Britain. He was kidnapped as a teenager and sold into slavery in Ireland. While a slave, he worked as a shepherd. During this time, he rediscovered and relied on his faith to get him through. He escaped after approximately six years in slavery and was able to return home. Sounds like a happy wrap-up to the story, right? Well, that’s not where it all ends. Not long after returning to his home and family in Britain, Patrick had a vision from God in which he felt called to go back to Ireland to share the Gospel. In his book Saint Patrick, Jonathan Rogers says:
Consider for a moment the hardships Patrick had just escaped in Ireland. Think of what he suffered as he made his escape. Now he was being called upon to turn around and go back…For former slaves, any time would be too soon to return to the place of their enslavement. If Patrick felt any hesitation about returning to Ireland, however, he didn’t mention it. He set about making the dream a reality. (p. 46)
The first step Patrick had to take in walking the path God laid out for him was to move past the actions of his kidnappers and captors. Forgiveness had to come first. Our children will have many people who wrong them in their lives, and God calls them and us to live lives of forgiveness.
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. ~Colossians 3:13
If you need a fun way to introduce to the topic of forgiveness to your little ones, consider the book We All Need Forgiveness by Mercer Mayer! Little Critter is always lots of fun and, in this book, his mama teaches him an important lesson based on Matthew 6:14:
As God forgives, we must forgive each other. ~Matthew 6:14
I loved all the Little Critter books when I was growing up, and I love that I can share hilarious escapades and faith lessons with my children! After finding it in his heart to forgive the people who had wronged him, Patrick then had to face some fears related to his next steps. He did not consider himself qualified or educated enough to fulfill his calling. Much like Moses, he was concerned about having the right words for speaking to the people of Ireland. But Rogers shares in his book:
In Patrick’s helplessness, the Son of God showed up and reassured him that he, Christ, was at work – it didn’t matter if Patrick didn’t know what words to say, or even what words other people were saying. God works through weak vessels: here is the truth that kept Patrick moving forward. (p. 48)
God will ask our children to do things they don’t think they can handle. I know I’ve experienced that feeling over and over again. This is what Patrick was going through. What he needed was faith. And we know that he embraced the idea that God would do what He set out to do through Patrick.
Because of Patrick’s faith and willingness to act, many souls were saved. While you’re wearing your green and eating Irish soda bread, take some time to share Patrick’s story of faith and forgiveness to inspire your children.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!