The Celtic Revival: Patrick (6)
I spent some years among the Irish to
prepare myself to follow what I knew
to be my calling from the Lord. It was
not I who made this choice to go, because,
as I have said, the Lord was calling me.
And at the time I came across the sea
I barely knew the Lord, though He was dear
to me. And this was good, for it was clear
He would reform and shape me and prepare
me so that I might serve His sheep and care
for all His flocks, as I am doing yet
today. And so, though once I would not let
my mind consider all my own need of
His saving mercy, now the Father’s love
for others is my care and my concern.
- Patrick, Confession (5th century)
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem…
- Galatians 1.15-18
It may sound harsh that Patrick’s parents and pastors would not support his mission to Ireland. But let’s remember: Patrick had not even finished formal schooling. He had no theological or pastoral training. Existing missions in Ireland were hanging on by their fingernails, and not making many inroads among the lost. And the Irish people – who had kidnapped and enslaved Patrick six years earlier – had not changed.
But Patrick would not be denied. God had called him – God! And his calling was clear as to place, people, and work to be done. To stay put in Britain, comfortable within his family and church, would have been to deny the Lord, and how much of real blessing could he expect from God, should he prefer his comforts to his calling?
So Patrick liquidated his inheritance and sailed to Ireland. There he probably connected with one of the existing monastic communities, and begin to prepare for his calling. He trusted the Lord to “reform and shape” him, fitting and equipping him for the work he’d been sent to do. We don’t know exactly what Patrick did, but besides study of Scripture and learning the practice of ministry from his mentors, we can imagine he continued fervently in prayer, and worked on developing some plan for his ministry, once it began.
Paul did the same. He retired to remote places to wait on the Lord and learn as much as he could before he launched on his calling to take the Gospel to the Gentiles.
It’s good advice. Each of us has a calling from the Lord – to His Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12). And Jesus has sent us into the world – our Personal Mission Field – as His witnesses and ambassadors (Jn. 20.21; Acts 1.8; 2 Cor. 5.20). We need to prepare diligently and daily if we are to fulfill this high and holy calling.
What does that involve? At least three things.
First, we must be constant in prayer – for ourselves, the people to whom God sends us, and the opportunities that will arise for showing and telling the grace of Jesus. Each day we should pray for ourselves, as Paul did, that we might be ready and effective when doors open before us (Eph. 6.18-20). But we should also pray for the people we will see that day, that God might be working in them, to prepare them for whatever work of grace we may be able to accomplish. Let us also pray without ceasing, so that we keep the Lord before us always, and live within His joy and pleasure (Lk. 18.1; Ps. 16.11).
Second, we must become equipped for every good work, and this means daily time in the Word of God (2 Tim. 3.15-17), where we hear God speaking to us, meet Him in His glory, and wait on the Spirit to transform us into the image of Jesus, and prepare us to glorify God in every aspect of our lives (2 Cor. 3.12-18; 1 Cor. 10.31). Our equipping will also require that we work continually to improve the disciplines and skills essential to showing the excellence of the Lord in all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities.
Third, we should plan our day, to make sure we have the work of God on the radar screen before we launch out into the day (Ps. 90.12, 16, 17). Fix your time in mind beforehand, and nurture a vision of what you’ll be doing in your time. That way, when you get to your time, you’ll already be moving in the direction of what God is sending you to do.
It would also help in preparing for your Personal Mission Field to have a soul friend to pray with and for you, and to encourage you in your calling.
Patrick had no qualifications. But he had determination to obey. He knew God could prepare him, but he also understood that he would have to undertake the preparation necessary for a life of ministering to others the grace and truth of Jesus.
No qualifications for ministry? No excuse.
Psalm 25.1-4 (Festal Song: Revive Thy Work, O Lord)
I lift my soul to You; O Lord, in You I trust.
Let me not come to shame, nor let my foes o’er me exult.
All they who wait on You shall never come to shame;
Yet they to shame shall come who stand against Your holy Name.
Make me to know Your ways, teach me Your paths, O Lord!
My Savior, all day long I wait and seek You in Your Word.
Lord, make me willing to prepare, so that I might…
More on Calling
How does God call us? How can we respond to God’s call for each of us? Our book, Bricks and Rungs, can lead you to reflect on the meaning of calling and the importance of each of us taking up the calling God has for us, right where we are. Order your copy of these lively verses by clicking here.
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.
No Qualifications? No Excuse
- T.M. Moore
- January 9, 2018
Are you preparing for your calling?
The Celtic Revival: Patrick (6)
T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.