Personal Mission Field/Enlarge Your Field
[Agilulf, king of the Lombards] granted him the privilege of settling in Italy wherever he pleased; and he did so, by God's direction. During his stay in Milan, he resolved to attack the errors of the heretics, that is, the Arian perfidy, which he wanted to cut out and exterminate with the cauterizing knife of the Scriptures.
- The Monk Jonas, Life of St. Columban (Italian, 7th century)
"And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country..."
- Joshua 14.10-12
Columbanus was already 40 years old when he crossed from Bangor in Ireland to begin his work among the moribund churches and wild pagans of Gaul.
Over the next several years he founded four monasteries, trained and sent hundreds of young men in mission, ticked off every established minister within earshot, and irritated most of the royalty and nobles by his insistence that, if they were going to profess Christ, they needed to live like Christians.
Columbanus was forcibly ejected from Gaul as a result of his success in furthering the Kingdom of Christ, and made his way to Switzerland, where he founded the monastery of St. Gall. Leaving his colleague there to head up the business, Columbanus continued southward into Italy and established a monastic foundation at Bobbio.
The nominally Christian king Agilulf, who granted Columbanus the right to minister within his realm, would have been - like all his Germanic predecessors - an Arian Christian, that is, a heretic. Columbanus would have known this, but it made no difference to him. His mission was to establish the banner of truth and advance the Kingdom of Christ, and if old age could not stop him, neither would one more semi-pagan monarch or his corrupt cadre of priests.
We're never too old to be working for the Lord. Having just passed my 62nd birthday, and every year feeling a little more the slowing down that goes with advancing in years, I keep looking to Columbanus and Caleb as examples of the kind of men I want to be when I grow up. Never give up. Never step back. Never yield to the enemies of the Gospel any ground you can claim and occupy for King Jesus. Never say you've gotten too old to be of any use to the Lord. Never.
The Kingdom of God does not advance from armchairs or by a click of the remote. It takes work, and we need all hands - young and old - on deck, laboring to expand their own missions and outreaches and to follow Christ into ever-new expeditions for the Gospel.
Pray that God will help the Christians you know - and you and me, too - to keep that attitude of Columbanus and Caleb, and never say never.
Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe
Why not check out our bookstore and begin this new year with some challenging reading on the Christian life?
In February we're kicking off our Campaign for Christian Literacy. More details to follow.