Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The luck of the Irish....

Once again, time for a trip through time....

Many people today do not know the true story of St Patrick. We know of the parties and festivities that have nothing to do with the story of Patrick, or his answer to the call of the Great Commission. So, today we will have a little history lesson.

At about the age of 16, Patrick, a Scottish young man born into wealth sometime in the late fourth century, was violently captured by Irish raiders and forced into a life of slavery. Patrick escaped years later and was reunited with his family. In a dream, Patrick felt called by God to go back to Ireland to spread Christianity to the land of his captors. So this godly young man set about to make this dream come true. He prayed for God's strength and then studied Scripture to ready himself. The he was prepared to return to the land of his captivity. He preached the Gospel and built churches throughout the country until his death on March 17, 461. For the modern day Irish, St Patrick's Day is considered a time of spiritual renewal as they fondly remember the slave-turned-evangelist who spread Christianity to the Emerald Isle. Many of the symbols of the day are directly related to his preaching. He went to preach to a pagan nation and taught them the idea of the Trinity with the shamrock, three leaves in one. This was a common plant, found all over the ground. This teaching style was one that Jesus used with all of his parables, using the objects found in common life to explain His lessons.

The story of Patrick has always reminded me of the story of Joseph in the Bible. (Genesis 37-50) Joseph, having been sold by his brothers into slavery, became the very one that God used to save their lives. Joseph's story is probably one of my favorites in the Old Testament. My favorite verse in it is Genesis 50:20 "You planned evil against me, God planned it for good."

Another reminder of the story of Patrick and Joseph, is the story of Squanto. He was a friend to the Pilgrims in the New World. He had been kidnapped from the New World by English sea captains and sold into slavery. He ended up being rescued by some monks. They taught him about Christianity, how to speak English and how to read and write. They fulfilled their promise to him and returned him to the New World. Upon returning, he found his entire tribe had dies of an epidemic. Another nearby tribe welcomed him and there he stayed. He was able to talk to the English when they came to settle and taught them how to farm in the New World. Without Squanto, the settlers would have died of starvation.

It seems throughout time, God uses bad circumstances to work miracles for different people and have His name be known. It worked for saving Joseph's family and allowing circumstances for a Deliverer....it worked for the Irish, to move them from a pagan culture to Christianity...and it worked to save the lives of the Pilgrims when they came to the New World. It gives me comfort and hope as he works in the circumstances of my life, that no matter how bad we think things are, God can use it for His glory.

I will close with another St Patrick story, this one a funny one that happened last year to my friend.....We'd been reading Tommie DePaola's book about St Patrick and had focused mainly on the Christian aspects of the holiday-Patrick's faith in God during his time as a slave, his willingness to follow God's call to return to Ireland, his using the shamrock to teach the Trinity, etc. I also wanted to mention some other symbols of the day and of Ireland and asked my daughter if she knew what leprechauns were. She said, "Well, I know Jesus healed ten of them, and only one came running back to say thank you." I just about lost it. Never again will I see a leprechaun without thinking of a leper.

And neither will I.

1 comment:

Carmen said...

Please, please, please keep blogging Lisa!!! My heart is so encouraged and blessed. I'm crying...not laughing, but am very touched. Love you!!!