His mother in anguish begged him not to leave her...He begged his mother, who placed herself in his way and held the door, to let him go. Weeping and stretched upon the floor, she said she would not permit it. Then he stepped across the threshold and asked his mother not to give way to her grief; she would never see him again in this life...
- Jonas, Life of Columbanus, Irish, 7th century
“He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.”
- Matthew 10.37, 38
What a way to start your preparation for ministry: Leave everything you’ve known and loved for years, all that is familiar, safe, and secure, to follow the Lord’s leading, trusting that He will take care of your needs, and of those you love.
Thus began the ministry of the greatest of the Irish peregrini (wandering missionaries), Columbanus. His sense of God’s call upon his life was so strong, that not even his mother’s dramatic, fervent pleading could keep him from leaving for Lough Erne, where he would prepare for the ministry under the tutelage of Sinell, a disciple of the great Comghall.
From Sinell’s school, Columbanus journeyed to Bangor, on the northeast coast of Ireland, and submitted himself to the guidance of Comghall. There he became an accomplished teacher and disciple-maker until, at the age of 50, God called him to the mission field in Gaul – what is today France.
I can only imagine how hard it must have been for Columbanus literally to step over his mother’s prostrate form to follow the Lord’s leading. And later in life, to leave the comfort of his monastery and students, and head out to the mission field. For most of us, the decisions about whether to obey the Lord and follow His leading are never so demanding. If we’re honest, we hardly ever think about following the Lord anywhere beyond the comfortable confines of our church. The calling to a Personal Mission Field, for most of us, doesn’t exist.
Let’s face it: There’s not a great deal of cross-bearing to our discipleship.
How much do we love Jesus? Every day God is calling us to follow Him in acts of faithful obedience: a word of witness here, more time spent in prayer and meditation, more generous giving of our time and treasure, a simple act of kindness or an edifying word. We know such things are a part of our Kingdom-and-glory calling from the Lord (1 Thess. 2.12). And we also know that, if the Lord Jesus were filling us to overflowing, He would bless the spaces and people of our lives with His grace and truth (Jn. 7.37-39; Eph. 4.8-10).
So why doesn’t this happen any more than it does?
Is it because we love the security of our silence more than the risk of a word fitly spoken? Do we cherish our comfort and ease too much to take up new works of service? Are we so fond of sleep that we cannot imagine rising an hour earlier to meet the Lord in prayer and His Word? Are we so comfortable cruising the calm seas of our faith, that we aren’t willing either to hoist our sails into new winds of the Spirit, or to get out of the boat and walk on the water at Jesus’ behest?
Put another way: Are we failing to take up our crosses and work our Personal Mission Fields because we love other things – security, comfort, convenience, sleep – more than we love Jesus?
How much do you love Jesus? Enough to leave your security, comfort, and ease to follow Him in a life of cross-bearing ministry? Whatever we love more than Jesus – whatever keeps us from Him or from obeying Him – is an idol, and we cannot serve Jesus and idols.
Columbanus took Jesus’ words literally, and, oh, what a price of pain and weeping he paid. But what joy he came to know! And how many lost souls and eager disciples came to know the blessing and power of the Lord because of that young man’s obedience!
And what about us? Who will be blessed today because of our love for Jesus?
1. Are you working your Personal Mission Field, seeking the Kingdom and righteousness of God? Whom will you touch with the grace of Jesus today?
2. How can you tell when you’re getting a little too comfortable in the faith?
Psalm 86.10-12 (Andrews: Praise, My Soul, the King of Heaven)
For You are great, You wondrous deeds do; You are the only and sovereign Lord.
Teach me Your way, let me give heed to, with all my heart, Savior, all Your Word!
Lord be gracious to me; Lord, be gracious to me: Praise Your Name forever, Lord!
Lord Jesus, help me today to love You supremely, and to stay close to You, so that…
Learn more about Columbanus and the Celtic Revival
Thank you for your prayers and support.
Susie and I give thanks for you each day, for your friendship, support, and collaboration in this work. God supplies our needs as we look to Him day by day, and He may be pleased to do so, at least in part, through you. Please seek Him in prayer concerning this matter. You can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
T. M. Moore
All psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
 Jonas, p. 15.