Daily Devotionals: (March 19th) An Old Man’s Youthful Zeal

by Aaron Dunlop

Patrick of Ireland: A Devotional History

Reading: “Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:5

Patrick wrote his Confession towards the end of his life when he was a battle-weary old man. He says of those days when he first got converted to Christ, “I would wake to pray before dawn in all weathers, snow, frost, rain; and I felt no harm and there was no listlessness in me—as I now realise, it was because the Spirit was fervent within me” (Confession, sec. 16).

As you continue through the Confession you must recognize the same zeal and desire in the ministry of the Lord late in Patrick’s life as when he began, the same desire to “give thanks to God without ceasing” (Confession, sec. 46), to be “one of His hunters or fishers” (Letter, sec. 11). As an old man He said, “I am bound by the Spirit who testifies to me that if I do so [go back to Britain to see his family] He will mark me out as guilty, and I am afraid of wasting the labour which I have begun—and not I, but Christ the Lord who commanded me to come to be with them for the rest of my life” (Confession, sec. 43). While Patrick was diminished by physical restrictions, it seems that by God’s grace his spiritual youthful vigour was maintained and even renewed; in fact, he enjoyed a renewed zeal.

As you consider your spiritual life, Christian, and think over the past few months—perhaps years—are you forced to admit that your spiritual life is lethargic, dull, difficult, indifferent, and mediocre? Have you have left your first love and do you live through every day with a nagging conscience—not bad enough to force you into action, but just bad enough to take the joy out of life? Dear Christian, pray with Charles Wesley, “I want an even strong desire, I want a calmly fervent zeal.… I would the precious time redeem.… Enlarge, inflame and fill my heart!” And then as far as you can, practice that prayer; “do the first works” (Revelation 2:5). You will find in doing these things that love for them will be renewed and strengthened. You will find, having drawn near again to God, He will draw near to you again and again. You can finish the race strong!

“Take care of giving up your first zeal; beware of cooling in the least degree. Ye were hot and earnest once; be hot and earnest still, and let the fire which once burnt within you still animate you. Be ye still men of might and vigour, men who serve their God with diligence and zeal.”—C. H. Spurgeon

All quotations from the Confession or Letter of Patrick are taken from the edition by A. B. E. Hood, 1978.

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