Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!!
St. Patrick, the patron Saint of Ireland and famed remover of snakes, was actually born in Britain. The son of a deacon, at age 16, he was kidnapped by pirates and taken to Ireland. There, he was sold into slavery. After six years of bondage, he escaped and went back home to Britain. However, he was not meant to stay there. A few years later, he had a vision where a man came from Ireland and handed him a letter. The heading said, “The Voice of the Irish,” and in the vision, he began to hear Irish people calling for him. Soon after, he returned to Ireland and became a missionary to that people, explaining the gospel to them in a way that they could understand. The rest is literally history. So many larger-than-life legends circulate around this incredible man, and I can’t really imagine a more celebrated Saint, except for maybe St. Valentine!
Up until a couple of years ago, I didn’t know all of this about St. Patrick. I merely thought he was a jolly Irishman who grew up with a love of his own homeland and felt a call to share Jesus with his own people. The more I think about his incredible story, the more my heart is opened to the deeper lessons within it.
So, today, I don’t want to focus on St. Patrick. Today, I want to talk about the Pirates.
Can you imagine you at 16? Can you imagine you at 16 being kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery in a foreign land? Can you imagine the fear and the pain?
You see, part of me wonders if Patrick was ever angry at his lot. Once he got over the initial fear of being taken by marauders, once he got over the culture shock of being in a new country with a different language, once he settled into his six years of slave labor, did he feel resentful at the turn his life had taken? Did he ever hate the pirates for taking him away from his family, from the familiar, and above all, from the plans that he had for his life?
We all have plans. I have no doubt that Patrick, at 16, had dreams. He had relationships that he valued. He had goals for himself. And then, here came the pirates! Wrecking the plans, changing his course, carting him off to a new destination, and putting him in a place he never imagined he would be.
You know what, I have pirates too… We all have pirates.
We all have things we didn’t see coming.
We all have situations or circumstances that hold us captive for awhile.
We all have conflicts that pillage our joy and ravish our hope.
We all have pirates.
I don’t know about you, but what I am looking at today is not exactly what I planned to be looking at when I dreamed of 25. Some of my circumstances and my relationships are more complicated, hurtful, and messy than I had ever intended. I feel less put-together-with-a-plan than I do stitched-together-by-a-thread.
Sometimes, this fact makes me distracted and disappointed and a little angry. I want to ask God, “Do you see me down here? Do you see what’s happening in my life? Why didn’t you do something to prevent all this mess?”
Do you ever feel this way too?
But, when thinking about St. Patrick today, I couldn’t help but notice…eventually, he got past the pirates. . They weren’t a permanent fixture in his life.They were only the darkness of a season, the trouble in a single chapter of his life.Frankly, this chapter can’t compare to the ones written after: the prayers, the legends, and the lives changed forever by the heart of single man, who would have never come to Ireland in the first place without meeting and getting past the pirates.
We too will get past the pirates, and maybe, just maybe, we will start to see them in a different light…
Maybe the pirates didn’t ruin the plan. Maybe the pirates were PART of the plan all along.