By Diana Bridges
This psalm is an ideal reading for St. Patrick’s Day. It speaks of wanderers and prisoners in need of deliverance. Patrick certainly falls into those categories. Born in Britain, he was kidnapped as a young man and forced into slavery in Ireland. By the time he’d been a slave for more than ten years, he had come to faith in Christ. Delivered miraculously from slavery, he returned home, only to realize later that he felt called to return to the land of his captivity.
A big part of Patrick’s story—and this psalm—is the deliverance of God. However, in Patrick’s case, deliverance was by no means immediate. He tended sheep for a decade, and during that time his new faith was able to deepen and grow strong. Like Patrick, we spend a lot of time in life waiting for deliverance—maybe for genuine rescue or perhaps for new opportunities or a greater sense of community. While waiting for the thing we want so much, we would do well to consider what God is doing in and through us in the meantime.
Time in isolation prepared Patrick for a life of service in his adopted homeland, much as Moses’ time in the wilderness prepared him to lead his people. What’s usually true about waiting is that when you’re in the middle of it, you have no way of knowing how long it might last and without the benefit of hindsight, you can’t always be sure whether you’re preparing for the call of God to take your skills and the gospel to a new location or whether you’re preparing to be an even more faithful shepherd of sheep where you are. Either way, God is present and at work—in your life and all around you.