The Celtic Revival: Patrick (22)
And I implore all those who fear
the Lord, and who agree to read or hear
this document, that, when you read it, you
would not in any way attribute to
this ignorant man a single one of all
the things that have been done, or any call
or guidance that to me was given by
the will of God. Instead, believe that I
have been a vessel of the Lord, and He
has wrought these works and shown His gifts to me.
- Patrick, Confession (5th century)
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us…For all things arefor your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4.7, 15
We rightly honor Patrick for his faithfulness in carrying out his calling from the Lord, and for his abundantly fruitful ministry. But we dishonor Patrick if all we do is remember his exemplary life and amazing achievement. Patrick would insist that we give all the honor and glory to God for what He had done in and through him. Patrick knew he was merely a vessel; the Lord fashioned, filled, and used him to refresh the souls of many. At the end of his life, he implored us to give thanks and praise to God for what He had done.
Patrick’s example should spur us on to works of obedient faith in our own Personal Mission Field. But only after he has spurred us on to worship God, remembering and reciting all His goodness to us, praising Him for His presence and power in our lives, honoring the work He does in and through us, and seeking His strength, that we might walk obediently before Him this day.
We are but frail vessels, but we have great potential for bringing honor and glory to God. Whatever of goodness, kindness, excellence, or moral exemplariness others may observe in us is only the Lord Jesus at work within us, willing and doing of His good pleasure (Phil. 2.13). We are vessels of the Lord, sent like Jesus into the world to pour out refreshing draughts of Kingdom righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit everywhere we go and for everyone around us.
Sadly, too many Christians go into the places and spaces of their lives like empty vessels, looking for someone to refresh them, to fill them, or to slake their thirst for attention. They go that way because that’s what they are – vessels with nothing to offer anyone, because they have not known the filling of the Lord.
To remedy this, we should come to the Lord each day, and throughout the day, drinking great draughts of His salvation from every part of His Word, and opening our souls wide to Him in prayer, that He might fill us with His Spirit and joy. Then we can go into our lives filled to overflowing, so that the life of Jesus can slosh all over the people around us all day long (Jn. 7.37-39).
With Patrick, God began a movement of His Spirit that affected the lives of multitudes for nearly four centuries. Generations of Irish Christian leaders looked back to Patrick, emulating his example of faithfulness in following the Lord, and trusting in Him at every step to meet their needs and use them as vessels of grace and truth to pagans and lapsed Christians alike. Patrick insisted, and Sechnaill agreed, that he was only following the instructions of Jesus and the example of the apostles in being a vessel for God’s grace.
If we follow those instructions and examples by faith, daily filling our souls with the refreshing fullness of the Spirit, then we can bring the joy of the Lord into every nook and cranny of our lives, and touch others with the grace of Jesus, just as Patrick did. Doing so, faithfully each day, we may not spark a great worldwide revival and awakening.
But then again, perhaps we might.
Psalm 116.7-14 (Mit Freuden Zart: All Praise to God Who Reigns Above)
Full well the Lord has dealt with me; my soul from death He delivered.
My weeping eyes, my stumbling feet, He has redeemed forever.
Forever I before His face shall walk with those who know His grace,
And dwell with them forever.
Afflicted, I believe His Word, though lying men would undo me.
What shall I render to the Lord for all His blessings to me?
Salvation’s cup I lift above and call upon the God of love
And pay my vows most truly.
Lord, fill me today and every day, so that I might refresh the souls of others with the life of Jesus by…
Are we pressing on to know Jesus?
Patrick did, and so did the apostle Paul. But what does it mean to know Jesus? And what does a life of growing in the knowledge of Jesus require of us? Our book, To Know Him, can help you answer those questions. Order your copy by clicking here.
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T. M. Moore, Principal
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.
Verse translation excerpts of Patrick’s Confession from T. M. Moore, Celtic Flame (forthcoming).