The Celtic Revival: Patrick (8)
This day I call to me God’s strength to show
my way, God’s power to help me as I go;
God’s wisdom for my guide, His holy eye
to light my way, His ear to hear my cry;
God’s Word to fill my speaking, and His hand
to hold me as I go, and help me stand;
His path before me and His shield to guard
me; all His strong angelic legions hard
around me to protect me: from the snares
of demons, from temptation’s might, from cares
and worries, and from threats of nature, from
one man or many that may seek to come
for my destruction, whether from afar
or near, no matter who or where they are.
- Anonymous, “Patrick’s Breastplate,” Irish, 8th century
O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
- Psalm 139.1-5
The hymn known as “Patrick’s Breastplate” was not written by Patrick, but it captures the essence of his relationship with God, and explains the power that was at work within him. Patrick was a man totally immersed in God, ensconced in and shielded by Him, and consequently, bold and visionary in all his undertakings for the Lord.
You can’t accomplish the kind of work Patrick did unless you know yourself to be surrounded, sustained, supported, suffused, and supercharged by God Himself, present with you in everything you do.
The difference between Patrick and most of us is that he understood this, and lived as if it were true. Most of us don’t understand this, and so we live timidly, tentatively, and without much joy or fruit in our Christian experience.
God knows this about us, and He woos us from His Word, and from the example of saints like Patrick, so that we might rest more completely in His all-aroundness, and live from within the breastplate of His grace, truth, and power as we go forth in our Personal Mission Field day by day.
Notice the words indicating how Patrick understood his relationship with God: strength, power, help, guide, light, speaking, stand, shield, guard. With such confidence, who can be content with a status quo experience of Christ? Would we not want to flex that strength, apply that power, draw on that help, follow that guide, and dwell in that light, so that our speaking and taking stands for the Lord would be shielded and guarded by His Word and promises? Would we not venture more boldly for Jesus, claiming and raising His banner over every person, place, and thing in our Personal Mission Field?
We do not suffer from a lack of training, resources, or opportunities. God provided these for Patrick, and He will provide them for us.
What we do lack is the belief that God is all around us at all times, His angels guard and keep us, His Word undergirds and guides us, and His Spirit empowers us exceedingly abundantly beyond all we’ve ever dared to ask or think. We are a people of timid, tentative faith. Thus, we do not brim with confidence, overflow with joy, and strain at the leash to bring Jesus to every person and place in our Personal Mission Field.
We can be more like Patrick, and realize more lasting fruit in our walk with and work for the Lord. But we must believe as Patrick did, and then we must live out to the borders of such belief, and even beyond.
Try praying this selection from “Patrick’s Breastplate” first thing in the morning and several times throughout the day, reminding yourself as you do that God has “hedged” you “behind and before,” and has laid His hand upon you for whatever you need in knowing, enjoying, and serving Him.
Psalm 139.1-5 (Ripley: Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah, O My Soul)
You have searched me, Lord, and known me, when I sit and when I rise;
From afar, my thoughts discerning, all my path before You lies.
Every word, before it’s spoken, You behold and know it well.
Both behind me and before me, Your sweet presence I can tell!
Grant me a clearer and more constant vision of Your presence with me, Lord, so that…
The Legacy of Patrick
Patrick made a lasting impact on Ireland and Europe, igniting a revival that lasted for nearly four centuries. He has left for us a legacy of priorities which we can appropriate for our own walk with and work for the Lord. Order your copy of The Legacy of Patrick from our online store (click here).
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.