Accordingly he returned to the house in which he had formerly dwelt and no one opposed him; nay, rather, all aided the man of God with gifts and food, as far as lay in their power. Nor did he lack defence, because in all things he had the aid of the Creator, and He Who keeps Israel under the shadow of His wings never slumbers.
- Jonas, Life of St. Columban
Firm faith and blessed zeal conquer all,
And the old enemy, yielding, breaks his darts.
Let your mind, my men, recalling Christ sound Ho!
The King of virtues too, Fount of being, highest Power,
Offers prizes to him who strives, and to the victor gives them.
Let your mind, my men, recalling Christ sound Ho!
- Columbanus, “A Boat-Song”
I will lift up my eyes to the hills—
From whence comes my help?
My help comesfrom the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to be moved;
He who keeps you will not slumber.
Behold, He who keeps Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
- Psalm 121.1-4
After some delays, a ship was found that was returning to Ireland, and the authorities in Nantes determined that Columbanus and his companions should be put on board to complete their return to Bangor.
True to form, Columbanus refused, allowing only that his men and his effects should be boarded. He insisted he would continue by skiff down the river to the sea, and thence to Ireland. And so it was.
No sooner had the ship begun to sail, however, than a fierce wind arose, driving it onto the shore, where it languished for three days. Exasperated, the captain released Columbanus’ team, and he and they returned to Nantes where they remained untroubled until they could resume their ministry elsewhere.
Typical of many early church historians – Eusebius, Augustine (City of God), Sozomen, Socrates Scholasticus, and all hagiographers – Jonas saw the hand of God in historical situations. God was not ready for Columbanus to forego his mission to Europe, so He who rules the winds (Ps. 147.15-18) thwarted the attempt to exile the Irish peregrini and arranged for them to come under the jurisdiction of another Frankish king, “Chlotar, Chilperich’s son, who ruled in Neustria over the Franks who lived on the coast.”
Faithful is He Who calls us to our own Personal Mission Field, Who will bring to pass His good and perfect will for His faithful people (1 Thess. 5.24; 2 Thess. 3.3). You are the steward of a sector of God’s Kingdom, a sphere in which Christ intends to bring His rule of righteousness, peace, and joy to earth as it is in heaven (Rom. 14.17, 18; Matt. 6.10). It is required of stewards that they be found faithful in working to fulfill their calling (1 Cor. 4.1, 2). Columbanus and his team faithfully carried out their ministry among the people of Gaul, in the face of hardship and opposition, and even as they were being deported. God kept and preserved them from want and harm, and powerfully intervened at the last moment to ensure they would be able to continue their work in their own Personal Mission Field.
As God was faithful to them, we must believe He will be faithful to us.
Do you believe that God has sent you to a particular sphere of influence, as He sent Jesus and Paul (Jn. 20.21; 2 Cor. 10.13-18)? Are you committed to working that Personal Mission Field through prayer, demonstrating the life of Christ, talking readily about Him, and working to transform your part of the Lord’s field for His Kingdom and glory (1 Thess. 2.12)?
If we are faithful in our stewardship, God will fulfill our calling so that, as we are transformed into the image of Jesus Christ, His presence in us will reach others with the grace and truth of the Lord.
What does your stewardship require of you today? Look to the Lord; let your mind recall Him, exalted in glory, and look to Him as the upward prize of your salvation. Then, with firm faith and blessed zeal, go forward in Christ, conquering and to conquer, for the praise of the glory of His grace (Rev. 6.2; Ps. 45.3, 4; Ps. 149.5-9). Nothing can stop you from ministering the Lord’s grace if you are faithful to Him Who will do this great and glorious work in and through you.
Psalm 121 (Duke Street: Jesus Shall Reign)
I lift up my eyes up to the heights: Whence comes my help by day, by night?
My help comes from the Lord above! He made creation by His love!
God will not let our footsteps fall; He will preserve us all in all.
He does not slumber, does not sleep; God will His chosen people keep.
You are our Keeper and our Shade; You have our debt of sin repaid!
You will preserve us by Your might; naught shall afflict us day or night.
Lord, You will guard our lives from ill; You will our trembling souls keep still.
All our endeavors You will guard; eternal praise be Yours, O Lord!
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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.
The Aid of His Creator
- T.M. Moore
- January 1, 2019
Columbanus was faithful, as we also must be.
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.