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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.


To do what He needs to do.

Patrick (5)

And it was there, while I was tending sheep,
I was alone one night, and fast asleep,
when, in a dream, I heard a voice that said
to me, “Your fast is good, there on your bed
among the flocks, for soon you will return
to your own land.” My heart began to burn
with wonder at this word. Then later on
that night this strange pronouncement came: “Be gone!
Behold, your ship is ready.” Could it be?
Then shortly afterwards I rose to flee
from him whose flocks I had for six long years
been keeping. Yet my vessel was not near
but as it happened, it was more than two
hundred long miles away. And yet I knew
no person in that place, nor ever there
had been before. With only God to care
for me, I fled, and made my way by night
across this land, while keeping out of sight…

 - Patrick, Confession

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Now after he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the gospel to them.

 - Acts 16.9, 10

At least three times God appeared to Paul in a vision to direct his movements for the Gospel. At least three times Patrick had the same experience. The first came to him in a dream in which the voice of the Lord commended Patrick for his faithfulness and fasting and promised that he would soon return to Britain.

Then, that same night, the voice returned to tell him to flee from the Wood of Foclut to catch a vessel that would bring him to his home. Shortly thereafter, Patrick fled; but he realized he would need to cross the breadth of Ireland to make it to the east coast, where, he supposed, the promised ship was waiting.

He made his journey primarily by night, hiding during the day lest his master discover him or someone else take him captive. He believed that God would care for him, and as it turned out, God did. He met a ship and sought passage on it to Britain. At first the crew declined to take him aboard. But then they had a change of mind. The thought may have occurred to them that they could sell Patrick into slavery once they arrived at their destination, so they welcomed him and set sail for Britain.

We may balk at the idea that God spoke to Patrick in dreams and visions, or that He talked with him in an audible voice. But we know from Scripture that God did this frequently, especially with prophets and apostles like Peter, John, and Paul. This was not God’s normal means of communicating, but when special directions were needed and no written revelation was available, or was not yet clear, God came to His people in dreams, visions, and audible speech.

I have no problem believing Patrick’s report. God had a special work for him. How was he to learn of it except from God? His fasts and prayers demonstrated his reliance on God, and his diligence about the work of keeping sheep helped to ready him for his great calling and task. He had been a slave for six years. Now it was time for the next stage of Patrick’s growth. God led him to flee his master and guided and cared for him until he arrived at his home in Britain.

We do not look for God to speak to us these days in visions and dreams. We have His Word, which is sufficient to show us Jesus in His glory and to equip us for every good work (2 Cor. 3.12-18; 2 Tim. 3.15-17). But not everyone is as blessed. Reports regularly trickle out from parts of the world, where the Scriptures are not available, of God or an angel appearing to individuals in a dream or vision to guide their steps to Jesus. Such theophanies are not God’s ordinary way of making known Himself and His will, and those who come to Jesus by such visions soon learn that Scripture is God’s chosen means of communicating with His people.

This was Patrick’s experience as well. His brief Confession and Letter Against the Soldiers of Coroticus contain over 125 references or allusions to Scripture, demonstrating Patrick’s commitment to the Word as his guide for life. But he would not have turned to Scripture, much less embraced his mission to the Irish people, had not God come to him in an extraordinary manner.

God is free to do whatever He thinks is best to keep us moving forward in His plan. Many believers have known extraordinary experiences in which they have sensed the leading of God, though without a vision or voice. Yet just as it took a vision and the voice of God to move Peter to evangelize the Gentiles (Acts 10), so God reached Patrick where no written Word existed, no preacher or counselor was available, and no other means would do to launch a 22-year-old youth on one of the most remarkable and God-honoring ministries in Christian history.

For Reflection
1. Can you think of a time when you had a strong impression from the Lord of His leading you? Explain.

2. What’s involved in testing our decisions and choices by the Word of God? How do you do that?

Psalm 19.7-11 (St Christopher: Beneath the Cross of Jesus)
The Law of God is perfect, His testimony sure;
the simple man God’s wisdom learns, the soul receives its cure.
God’s Word is right, and His command is pure, and truth imparts;
He makes our eyes to understand; with joy He fills our hearts.

The fear of God is cleansing, forever shall it last.
His judgments all are true and just, by righteousness held fast.
O seek them more than gold most fine, than honey find them sweet;
be warned by every word and line; be blessed with joy complete.

Speak to me from Your Word, O Lord, and show me…

T. M. Moore

Patrick’s Legacy

You can read more about the impact of Patrick’s ministry in our book, The Legacy of Patrick. Here you’ll learn how Patrick’s work has affected generations of Christians down to our own day. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Crosfigell comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. 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.

T.M. Moore

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 the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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