During the fifth century A.D. a young lad named Patrick worked as a slave for a Druidic high priest named Milchu. Patrick had come to have a supernatural love for Ireland. As he walked the woods and mountains alone with the animals, it was in Ireland that Patrick had come to know God personally.
He grew up in a Christian home in a British Roman settlement but had not really embraced the faith of his family. Patrick was lonely for his family and the biblical teaching his father and grandfather had given him. Through a dream God told Patrick to escape the captivity of his master and return to England to finish his training.
After years of study God placed upon Patrick’s heart the desire to convert his former master to his new found faith. Unfortunately, Milchu destroyed his home and himself by burning up all his possessions before Patrick could approach him.
Patrick spent some time preaching to the locals there and finding out what had happened since his initial departure. In his conversations he learned that the high king of Ireland, King Laeghaire, would be celebrating the Druid’s Feast of Beltane, by attending the festival.
Patrick felt led to make a statement for the power of God about the idols and occultic practices that bound these people to the King. On the eve of the festival it was customary that a huge bonfire be lit as to worship the idols of the King. Patrick decided to light his own bonfire as a way to demonstrate against the King.
When Laeghaire saw Patrick’s fire he ordered it smothered. Despite the efforts of many soldiers Patrick’s fire refused to be extinguished. Patrick gave a bold testimony for Jesus before them and refused to be silent. He reminded them of the great faith Elijah had and how he stood up to the prophets of Baal. Patrick believed that that same God Almighty who rescued Elijah would rescue him.
King Laeghaire became incensed and ordered his priests and soldiers to extinguish the fire and kill Patrick. In the confusion the soldiers attacked one another and the priests were thrown head first into the rocks.
The frustrated King pulled his sword to slay Patrick. His arm froze in the air as stiff as a statue and stayed that way until he knelt in surrender to Patrick. Though it is unclear how many of the details of this encounter are legend and how many actually happened, Patrick’s victory over Laeghaire and his Druids opened the political doors of Ireland to the Gospel.
For the next thirty years Patrick established Christianity throughout Ireland, and though he had other miracles attributed to his ministry, he was not often far from trouble. After planting several churches and training many priests, Patrick died around the age of seventy-two in A.D. 461. To this day folks continue to celebrate the life of this unique man.
How much faith do you have? Are we willing to stand strong with the same faith Elijah and Patrick had for those things that honor God?
The Apostle Paul reminds us that, “But by God’s grace I am what I am, and the grace that he gave me was not without effect. On the contrary, I have worked harder than any of the other apostles, although it was not really my own doing, but God’s grace working with me.” – 1 Corinthians 15:10
What is it that God is asking you to take a stand on today, this week, this year? Are you willing to be misunderstood, ridiculed, or even abandoned? What are you willing to sacrifice for the sake of your faith?
Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
Dr. Jim Grassi