Patrick lived approximately 1500 years ago in an area not known for extensive written history. It is a bit hard to know a great deal about his life, but we do have what some people consider to be his autobiography. There is a lesson in it for us as we try and ignore the fact that we have turned the celebration of a devoutly Christian man into just another in a long line of excuses to get inebriated. As if we needed that.
Patrick was apparently born in Scotland to a lineage of Christian workers/priests. At 16 years old, he was reportedly taken into slavery in Ireland where he worked with the animals for 6 years before escaping back to his homeland, where he became educated in the family business of theology. Instead of living a cushy life of an ordained minister at home, he decided to take the message of God’s Good News back to the pagans who had kept him against his will so many years ago.
At that time, the Irish isle was ruled by many small kingdoms of tough and fairly brutal men and women who worshiped various pagan gods, and often, took justice into their own hands and killed those who threatened or even disagreed with them. Into this mess waded Patrick. He spent years telling these people that their worship of many gods was false, and only by following Jesus could they hope for a better life now and an eternity in God’s presence.
He used the shamrock, a three leafed clover that meets in one stalk to describe the nature of the Father over us, Jesus with us, and the Holy Spirit in us in such a manner that many people turned away from their old ways, and took up a life in Christ. Side notes: he did not drive the snakes out of Ireland – there’s no evidence there ever were any shakes on that island, and he isn’t actually a saint since they didn’t have that process of canonization way back then. Nevertheless, he did an amazing thing by speaking truth in a dangerous situation.
When we chose an adventure to a new place, even if it is to serve others, we tend to go in hoping for the best. Patrick had heard the severe wind, felt the earthquake, and experienced the fire, but listened to the whisper that called him back to the place that he had been enslaved. (read 1 Kings 19:9-18) Like Elijah, God called Patrick to work with those who worshiped false idols, and it would be a dangerous mission.
Ask yourself, do you need to speak out against the false idols in your life? Is God whispering that you need to lovingly speak against false gods in someone else’s life? This is difficult stuff, and should be done with consultation of God’s Word and perhaps another Godly person in your life. Being bold on your own is scary. Acting out of your ego-driven false self can lead to disaster. Emboldening yourself with the Spirit in you will give you all the courage you will ever require to speak the truth.
You’ll get to do it without green beer or the hangover.
How about that?
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