At length, however, [Comghall] began to conquer himself and to think that he ought not to consider his own need more than the necessities of others. Nor was it done without the will of the Almighty, who had educated His novice for future strifes, in order that He might win glorious triumphs from his victory and secure joyful victories from the phalanxes of slaughtered enemies.
- Jonas, Life of St. Columban
Do not plunge headlong
by the road of mortals,
on which you see for many
shipwreck has occurred.
Step between the nets
with hesitant feat,
for by those nets the rest
we see were caught unaware.
From earth’s things lift up
your heart’s eyes…
- Columbanus, “Poem on the World’s Impermanence”
“Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!”
- John 4.35
And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. Then He said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” They immediately left their nets and followed Him.
- Matthew 4.18-20
After distinguishing himself as a man of piety, discipline, wisdom, and sound instruction at the monastery in Bangor, Columbanus began to sense the Lord leading him into a new phase of his calling. He felt as though he should take the Gospel to Europe, to help in reviving the churches there and in calling the lost to repentance and faith.
As Jonas explained, when he shared this vision with Comghall, the abbot could not support the effort. Columbanus deferred to the authority of his superior and stayed put.
But the prompting of the Lord did not go away, and Columbanus continued to discuss the possibility of a mission to Europe with Comghall. The abbot realized that he was holding on to Columbanus for his own purposes and the wellbeing of his monastery. As they continued to discuss the matter, Comghall was able to lift up his eyes and see the opportunity as clearly as did his protégé. Finally, he sent Columbanus off with twelve companions to be fishers of men in the Lord’s fields in Europe.
Columbanus was now at the age when most men have settled into a career and all the responsibilities and entanglements that go with that. He was almost 50 years of age.
But Columbanus was deeply ensconced in a vision of unseen things, and of the glory and coming of Christ’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. He felt he had contributed as much to this vision as he could, teaching at Bangor. Now he needed to expand his Personal Mission Field into new parts and take up new challenges in his service to the Lord.
Happily, Columbanus had never allowed himself to become so entangled in the business of life that he could not drop everything and follow the Lord to become a fisher of men. With the blessing of Comghall, and accompanied by twelve of his own students, Columbanus set off by sea for Gaul (modern France) somewhere around 590 AD.
Here is a key to following Jesus: Keep your eyes on Him, exalted in glory. Be faithful day by day in whatever He gives you to do, whatever your calling may be. But remain open to expanding your Personal Mission Field, and to setting aside every hindrance, overcoming every obstacle, and gaining whatever preparations you may need to fish for men in new parts.
We are citizens of a Kingdom not of this world, subjects of a King Who reigns in glory, and beneficiaries now of His Spirit and promises. Nothing will be impossible for us; whatever God calls you to do, He will enable you to achieve (1 Thess. 5.24).
Even today, in the calling to which Jesus sends you, opportunities for serving the Lord will populate your path. Get ready for them now. Seek the Lord in prayer. Resolve to follow Him for His Name and Kingdom’s sake. Fulfill your calling to His Kingdom and glory right where you are, right where he has sent you for now.
But be ready. Keep your eyes lifted toward the King in glory and the mission field of the world. And let all the skills and experience you have gained in your present calling be but preparation for whatever the Lord may want to do with and through you in the days ahead.
As Patrick put it, “Fish well and diligently” now, and you will fish further and more abundantly tomorrow.
1. What opportunities for “fishing” do you expect to have today? Are you ready?
2. How do you know when the Lord is prompting you to some new endeavor in your Personal Mission Field?
Psalm 90.12-17 (Landas: My Faith Has Found a Resting Place)
Lord, teach us all our days to note that wisdom may be ours.
Return, O Lord, have pity on those servants who are Yours.
Each morning let Your love appear that we for joy may sing.
And make us glad for every day You us affliction bring.
Now let Your work to us appear; our children show Your might.
And let Your favor rest on us; show mercy in Your sight.
The work that You have given us, confirm, and to us show,
That we Your chosen path may walk and in Your precepts go.
Here I am, Lord, ready to launch out into my Personal Mission Field, eager to serve You, and always prepared to…
T. M. Moore
God sends us as joy-bringers to our world, bearing the Good News of the Kingdom to the people around us. To better understand this calling, click here and here to order two free books, The Gospel of the Kingdom and Joy to Your World!
Please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. We ask the Lord to move and enable many more of our readers to provide for the needs of our ministry. Please seek Him in prayer concerning your part in supporting our work. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.
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.
 Jonas, p. 5.
 Walker, p. 185.