Yesterday I introduced you to St. Patrick, a young Christian who strayed but God didn’t give up on him. Through his hardships, Patrick realized he needed God. He developed a prayer life that talked to God throughout the day and in the midst of troubles.
He was sold a slave to an Irish rancher, and served in a foreign, pagan culture. At the same time, he somehow began to identify with the very people who had enslaved him.
He learned their language and culture, understood their own view of the world and their religion. In time, he even came to love them as people who might one day turn to the Triune God. He began to see them as human and not the barbarians most Romans considered people outside the empire to be.
Still, Patrick was a slave and sought his freedom. After six years of service as a shepherd, he escaped to the Continent (Gaul) and eventually reached home again at the age of 22. But deep down inside his soul he became convinced that he must return and evangelize Ireland.
So he studied at the monastery and was ordained at the age of 28, then studied some more. When Palladius, the first Irish missionary bishop, died in 431 A.D. Patrick was commissioned the following year and spent 30 years serving the Lord there until he died.
Patrick is said to have founded more than 300 churches and baptized more than 120,000 people.
Can I ask you to test your heart today? Could you please compare it to St. Patrick’s heart? When you see the long lines at Costco. When you watch people hoard toilet paper. When your neighbors are unloading cases and cases of bottled water from their trunk. Don’t judge. Don’t belittle.
Have some compassion. Like Jesus. “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
St. Patrick turned an obstacle into an opportunity, and led his heart to evangelize those who didn’t know God. What an amazing opportunity you have as a Christian right now, to speak to the hearts of a fearful world.
It starts with compassion. And it continues with saying something to people about the grace of God. Your Savior has been preparing you to do both well.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I see the crowds hoarding toilet paper and I confess that I find it silly. In my heart I easily judge and criticize, but you have taken possession of my heart to be like yours. To show compassion. Speak your truth of grace to me again today, so that I can show grace to others. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Slow down, and use the PRAY acronym.
- Praise (tell God what you appreciate about his grace in your silliness, even sinfulness)
- Repent (tell God about your judgmental heart, appreciate his forgiveness)
- Ask (visualize people who are scared silly, and your heart filled with Jesus’ compassion, and ask him to pour it out to them in such measure that he’ll need to keep giving you more)
- Yield (talk to God about the next step after you say “Amen,” how you want faith to lead the way, how you are willing to be part of his answer and see it develop for your good)