But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34 NASB).
Saint Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was a man who lived Jesus’ words, “Father, forgive them.” Through his forgiving heart, he found his destiny and changed a nation.
Patrick was actually not from Ireland; he was born in Britain. As a teenager he was taken captive by a marauding band of druids and taken to Ireland. Druids were a people who practiced sorcery and human sacrifice and were know for their cruelty. Patrick lived enslaved among this people where he was provided with little food or clothing, but he continually prayed to his God. After six years, he escaped and returned to Britain and then traveled to France to study for the ministry. Sometime later, in a vision by night, Patrick saw a man carrying letters for him. The letters are entitled, The Voice of the Irish. As he started to read them he imagined he heard the people who had enslaved him, as with one voice, call out, “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.“ Patrick responded to the call and the rest is history.
We can learn two things from the life of St. Patrick. First, God often uses adversity to bring us to himself. It was in the time of his captivity that he fervently sought his God. Second, frequently it is forgiveness that is the pathway to our destiny. Saint Patrick once said, “If I be worthy, I live for my God to teach the heathen, even though they may despise me.” If St. Patrick would not have been willing to return good for evil, he would not have fulfilled his destiny and Ireland would have remained unchanged. Will it be any different for you and I. Without forgiveness we will never traverse the rocky cliffs of man’s imperfections. It is necessary to change our hearts and also the catalyst to change the world.
Ken Barnes, the author of “The Chicken Farm and Other Sacred Places” YWAM Publishing