16 – Lessons from St. Patrick: Driving Out Your Snakes
St. Patrick’s Day is about so much more than just green and leprechauns and clover. There is a wealth of wonder contained in St. Patrick’s history—wonder focused on God’s redemption and power. Come explore the history and the legend of St. Patrick, and discover truth that will bless you in the deep and beyond.
There’s a lot of myth surrounding St. Patrick, and some traditions that aren’t, well, saint-ish. But we discovered some powerful truths in the history.
What can we learn from Patrick’s story?
He was kidnapped when he was 16 years old and taken to Ireland as a slave. There he served for six years as a shepherd. In this deep place, in the middle of all the pagan practices in that country, Patrick became a Christian.
- Got is not bound by walls, or by culture. He speaks to us anytime anywhere.
Patrick wrote that he took to praying at least 100 times today. Over the course of time he felt God speaking to him, telling him flee to the coast, that there would be a ship waiting for him to take him home.
- God directed Patrick in the deep.
Patrick obeyed and walked 200 miles to the coast, knowing that if he would have been captured he probably would’ve been killed. This was a blind obedience. How could he be sure there really would be a ship?
But there was a ship. He was able to make his way home, and he began studying to become a priest. For years he continues his devotion to God, and then he begins having prophetic dreams where he hears the people of Ireland calling him to come back. To come and preach Christ to them.
Patrick again obeyed. He went back to Ireland, BACK to his deep place.
- God had created a tenderness in Patrick, in the deep place, for the very thing that Patrick hated—for the people who enslaved him, the things that tore him away from his home. He hears their cry and follows.
Patrick found his message in his deep place. He could never have seen that coming while he was in the midst of his slavery. But God had prepared it, planned it, long before.
- God put Patrick in the deep place in order to refine him, to give him his message.
In his deep place, Patrick did the exact opposite of what we all want to do in our deep place. Instead of despairing, or wallowing in anger or bitterness, he turned to God. By doing that, he found the purpose God had planned for him.
The Snakes – the World’s Ideologies that have slithered into our mindset, our way of thinking
1. Belittling, Criticizing, Insulting
The political climate today is a perfect example. The main system they use is not communication or discussion. It’s mocking and belittling each other. They insult and lie about each other. As Christians, we need to be aware of this snake, abhorring it, not supporting it.
“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.” James 3:9-11
2. Courting the World’s Favor
An article entitled “The Church Versus the World,” adapted from John MacArthur’s book Why One Way says this: “Why do evangelicals try so desperately to court the world’s favor? Churches plan their worship services to cater to the ‘unchurched.’ Christian performers ape every worldly fad in music and entertainment. Preachers are terrified that the offense of the gospel might turn someone against them, so they deliberately omit the parts of the message the world might not approve of.” (Read full article here)
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” John 15:18-20
We face the temptation to strip Christ out of our books to court the world’s favor and sell more books. But Jesus is a stumbling block. He will always be a stumbling block.
3. Using the World’s Weapons – Language and Graphic Materials
How do we show the darkness without being graphic? We write evocatively not explicitly.
“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live.” Ephesians 4:29
Therefore, don’t grieve the Holy Spirit by the way we write.
This is the mindset we face: Who are we to say in our books that there’s only one way to Christ?
Relativism makes us lose our understanding of the difference between true and false.
“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter” Isaiah 5:20
How do we drive out the snakes?
- Pick up your shillelagh, and have at it! We need to take a serious look at how we act. Combat belittling and criticizing. Uplift others. Promote other’s books, speak well of other writers, honor the ways they honor God in their writing and careers. Do this because it’s right, not because it will reflect well on you.
- Seek God’s favor, not the world’s favor. Write and speak truth, even when it’s unpopular. Stop trying to woo people by making the truth of the Gospel more “palatable.” Let God’s word and truth stand as He has given them.
- Be sure what you write honors God. Remember, evocative, not explicit.
Whatever dark places you are in, whatever difficult path you’re on, let the legend of St. Patrick encourage and uplift you. Be more Patrick. Look for God, see Him and listen to His truths. And then share them in what you write and speak. Don’t let the snakes—the world’s ideologies—slither into your hearts and minds. Stand for God’s truth—and for those who need to read and hear it.
We want to hear from you!
What “snakes” do you face?
How did you battle them?
Books we Mentioned
Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers