St. Patrick’s Day. We think of so many fun and celebratory traditions encircling this day, images of shamrocks and everything green. But the real story of Patrick reveals such deep and abiding truths. Profound truths.
Kidnapped and imprisoned, Patrick had to find a way to hold onto a God he barely knew when his long journey began. But held on, he did. Held on so tight that after being freed, he sought out his captors to share the truth of salvation, grace, and love. Quite a grip he had.
St. Patrick’s Day in elementary school was all about avoiding the pinch. But oh how Patrick knew the pinch! He lived in a perpetual painfully squeezed place as he sought to honor the God who sought him. We avoid the pinch; he pursued it for the sake of living the gospel.
Perhaps this month would be a good time to look around and see those living in a pinch. Economic restraint feels so tight to our friends and neighbors that they feel suffocated. Emotional pressure also constricts the heart, numbs the mind, and even slows the body. We are surrounded by those living in the pinch, in a crushing state of strain. We are enveloped by a wounded world’s ever-increasing desire to be free from all that binds.
What do we do? How are we to respond to need? God gave us such a great example in Patrick. Long before he was a saint, he was a guy. Just a guy, a teenager in fact, who was scared and confused and in need himself. God met him there and infused his heart with all he needed to go and do what he was called to. He walked Jesus’ path of love, and in so doing, left behind some lovely shamrock-shaped footsteps for us to follow. Under the three-leaved clover lies the footprint of the Master. May we follow it into fields of green, fields of harvest, fields of life.