Every year I take time to study St. Patrick with my kids. His story has always seemed remarkable to me. Everyone spends part of their life in a wilderness, but, once they’ve escaped, how many people choose to return to it?
St. Patrick was kidnapped and taken to Ireland as a teenager, escaped in his early twenties, and spent the next few years studying to become a member of the clergy. Then he had a vision, which he believed was God calling him back to the Irish people. So, he went.
Much of what we know about St. Patrick is legend and guesswork. It is, however, believed that he wrote a prayer titled ‘Breastplate’. This is one of my favorite excerpts:
I arise today, through
The strength of heaven,
The light of the sun,
The radiance of the moon,
The splendor of fire,
The speed of lightning,
The swiftness of wind,
The depth of the sea,
The stability of the earth,
The firmness of rock.
Whoever wrote this spent time in the wilderness. Nothing reminds a person of the magnitude of God’s greatness and their own smallness quite like the wild. I spend time in the deserts and the forests to see how God has provided for his creatures and I love being reminded just how much I rely on the care of my Creator.
I arise through a mighty strength that is not my own. I take another step through a mighty strength that is not my own. I overcome obstacles, conquer my fears and reach the end of my journey through a mighty strength that is not my own.
The writer of ‘Breastplate’ knew this as well:
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise.
This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Eph. 5:14