The Celtic Revival: Patrick (4)
Our God is not as you suppose; instead,
He is the God of every man, the Lord
of earth and heaven, Who by His holy Word
has made the sea and rivers, and the sun
and moon and stars. He fashioned every one
of them, and keeps them in their place. And He
is Lord of all the mountains, every tree
and creature, and the verdant valleys. He
is God in heaven, and dwells within the sea
and on the earth and underneath the sky.
His life is in all things; all things are by
His grace created and sustained. He makes
them all to live, and rules without mistake
or error. He the light of sun each day
rekindles, and the light which guides your way
by night – the moon and stars – He makes for you
because He is a gracious God, and true.
- Bishop Tirechan’s Account of Patrick’s Journey, 7th century
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
- Acts 2.36
In his little book, Your God is Too Small, J. B. Philips identified a major obstacle to realizing greater Kingdom presence, promise, and power. While he noted that most confessing Christians undoubtedly believe in God, the God they believe in may not be the God Who saved them and has called them to His Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12).
Many of us have made the mistake of thinking God was like us, or, if not like us, at least primarily for us (cf. Ps. 50.21). We have thought that God’s primary concern, and thus the focus of all His strength, ability, and will, is on getting us saved, keeping us happy, and making sure we get to heaven in a timely manner. We don’t expect too much of God – just enough grace to get us over the bumps and through the rough patches in life, with a few fun Christian friends and a nice church in the bargain.
Had this been Patrick’s view of God, there would never have been a Celtic Revival. Had it been, when Patrick arrived home from his six years of slavery in Ireland, he would have thanked and praised God profusely, booked himself into churches all over the west of Britain to regale them with his faith, written a popular account of his travails and distributed autographed copies liberally, and kept himself at home, enjoying his family’s good fortune, consorting with his Christian friends, and never thinking that his life could or should be other than it was. His God wanted him saved, safe, and happy, and since he was, his Christian life was as good as it gets.
But that was not the God in Whom Patrick believed.
We need to listen more carefully as God reveals Himself to us in His Word. He is Creator, Sustainer, Owner, and Developer of the entire cosmos, and of the whole vast spiritual realm. He upholds and rules it by His Word of power, pervades and shapes it by His Spirit, and puts it to use for His Kingdom and glory as He pleases. He has sent Jesus for our salvation, that we might be forgiven, reborn, and adopted into the family of God, and He has made this Jesus both Lord and Christ, King of kings and Lord of lords, of Whose rule and Kingdom there shall be no end, on earth as it is in heaven.
Patrick understood this, and he did not hesitate when God called him out of the comfort of his home and family to return to Ireland on a mission to convert and disciple the very people who had enslaved him. He understood what it meant to be not his own, but the subject and servant of the Lord and Christ, and he gave up all his comforts, everything that was familiar to him, cashed in his inheritance (since neither family nor church would support his mission to Ireland), and headed back to the most pagan land in all of Europe.
Patrick’s God was big, and therefore he was not afraid of big visions or big risks or big undertakings or big challenges that might come from such a God. Indeed, he seemed to welcome them with relish, as He rested on the greatness and promises of God to use little ol’ rustic him to turn the nation of Ireland upside-down for the Lord Jesus Christ.
What about your God? Is He as big as Patrick’s God? Is He Lord and Christ? Is He advancing His Kingdom in and through you, into every nook and cranny of your Personal Mission Field?
And if not, why not?
Listen to God as He reveals Himself to you in His Word. This God is a big God, and He is calling each of us follow Him, and not our own ease, comfort, or small visions of the Christian life. Let Patrick’s example inspire you to a bigger vision of God, and of how God can use you to bring joy to your world and turn it upside-down for Jesus.
Psalm 34.1-9 (Alleluia [Lowe]: Mighty God, While Angels Bless You)
I will bless the Lord at all times; I shall praise Him evermore!
My soul makes its boast in Jesus – Him we gladly all adore!
Magnify the Name of Jesus!
Let us lift His Name in praise!
When I sought the Lord, He answered and from fear delivered me.
Those who look to Him are radiant; shamed their face shall never be.
When I cried to God, He heard me, and from trouble rescued me.
‘Round their camp His angel lingers that they may delivered be.
Taste and see how good is Jesus; blessed are all who in Him hide.
None shall lack for any blessing who in Christ will e’er confide.
Lord, grant me a big vision of You, and of Your greatness, and Your Kingdom, so that I…
The Legacy of Patrick
To learn more about the impact of Patrick’s ministry, and what we can learn from the Celtic Revival, order a copy of our book, The Legacy of Patrick (click here). And to get you started letting the joy of Christ fill your life, order a copy of Joy to Your World! (click here).
Take up a mission like Patrick’s
Our Mission Partners Outreach is designed to help you identify, as Patrick did, the mission field to which God is calling you, and to equip you, working with a friend, to begin working that field fruitfully. Watch this brief video (click here), then enroll for our Mission Partners Outreach right away.
Like Patrick, we depend on the Lord to support our ministry, which He does through friends who pray for us and share their gifts with us, as the Lord leads. As you pray today, ask the Lord whether He might use you to support this work. You can do so by clicking the Contribute buttonat our website, or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Thank you.
T. M. Moore
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.