Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O LORDof hosts, my King and my God.
- Psalm 84.3
Would that me also, wretched though I be, yet His poor servant, He might deign so to arouse from the sleep of idleness, so to kindle with that fire of divine love, that the flame of His love, the longing of His so great charity, would mount above the stars, and the divine fire would ever burn within me! Would that I had the tinder to foster, feed, and keep alight that fire unceasingly, and nourish that flame, which knows no quenching and knows all increase!
- Columbanus, Sermon XII, Irish, 7th century
I have a hard time putting together Columbanus and “the sleep of idleness.”
Here’s a guy, at 50 years of age, a successful scholar and mentor, who decides with 12 companions to go on mission for the Lord and heads out to Gaul (France).
It’s the turn of the 7th century, so this is no mean achievement in itself. But what happens over the next several years is, well, astonishing.
He works every day in the fields with his pals while continuing his life of piety and scholarship. He establishes four monasteries at which thousands – thousands – of young men are trained for the Gospel ministry and the life of martyrdom. He stands up to corrupt kings, lazy priests and bishops, and even the pope himself!
And he’s crying out to the Lord to light his fire and make it shine a little brighter?
Friend, what hope is there for you and me? If this guy’s idle, we’re dead!
Columbanus lived as a sacrifice for the Lord every day of his adult life. He wanted nothing more than that the light of Christ’s love should shine through him and radiate into the lives of the people God put in his path, and he wept to think that anything in him might inhibit that great work.
He was Personal Mission Field personified.
Columbanus was like a sparrow or a swallow, offered up on the altar of the Lord, and his only regret was that he could not burn more brightly than he did.
Who are your heroes? How do you want to spend your life? Jack Miller used to say, with a nod to Psalm 84.3, “even the bird brains know where they belong.” What do you want your life to count for during the short years God gives you on this earth?
Take up the longing of Columbanus and make it your prayer every day: “Come on, Jesus, kindle a flame in me!”
Psalm 84.1-4 (Holy Manna: “Brethren, We Have Met to Worship”)
Lord of hosts, how sweet Your dwelling; how my soul longs for Your courts!
Let my soul with joy keep telling of Your grace forever more.
Like a bird upon the altar let my life to You belong.
Blest are they who never falter as they praise Your grace with song!
Use me, dear Lord, use even me just as You will and when and where!
A challenge for spring
It’s spring! OK, I know we still have three inches of snow on the ground here in Vermont, and it was only 15 degrees yesterday. But it’s spring, and soon everything will be putting on the garments of new life. What a perfect time to renew your commitment to working your Personal Mission Field, to pray each day, following Columbanus, that God would “light you up” with His grace and truth and send you forth like He sent Jesus, to bring near the Kingdom of the God the people in your life. Will you make that commitment? Will you follow the example of Columbanus and let this spring be a new beginning for the work of your Personal Mission Field? Here’s a challenge: Take the longing of Columbanus, expressed in the quote above, and translate that into a prayer you will pray each day throughout this spring, seeking the Lord for daily revival in Him. Send me a copy of your prayer, and I’ll share it with the rest of the community in this space, so that we can encourage one another in our walk with the Lord.
Don’t forget, for your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe at this time, I’ll send you a copy of The Legacy of Patrick, an overview of Patrick’s ministry and a summary of the Celtic Revival which grew out of his labors. Use the donate button here or at the website, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Dr., Essex Junction, VT 05452.
Lord, kindle our flames for revival!
T. M. Moore, Principal