Corned beef and cabbage, check. Wear something green, check. Free fries with green ketchup at Burger King, check. Yup, that was the extent of my St. Paddy's celebration last Saturday. Year after year always the same. I guess, however, this year I really pushed the frivolity envelope by having fries with green ketchup! Living on the edge now! Whoo! Hoo!
St. Patrick's Day this time around really got me thinking. As a child I learned a little about the Irish holiday, but never really gave it much thought until now. For several weeks my neighbor's house has been arrayed with all things shamrock from garden statuary, garlands, front door wreath and green glitter shamrocks dangling in the windows. I mean there's some serious green shamrock bling going on over there. Why?... I wondered as I slowed my vehicle to a crawl to take it all in. Maybe she's from proud Irish decent or perhaps Hobby Lobby had a smokin' sale on shamrocks....just wondering.
Over the last several days I've been compelled to do further inquiry on the true origin of St. Patrick's Day. And I must tell you that what I learned really encouraged my heart and blessed my green socks off and I share a small portion here today.
I was introduced to the story of the life of an ordinary man who did extraordinary exploits for God. The Irish knew nothing of Jesus. But God had a plan!
I met a 16 year old boy who was seized by marauders and carried off into captivity in Ireland. A land gripped by paganism, idoltry and spiritual darkness. The Irish knew nothing of Jesus.
I met a 16 year old boy who was twice sold into slavery and sentenced to six years of isolation and loneliness on Ireland's steep slopes tending his master's flocks.
I met a 16 old slave boy who fervently sought the heart of God in prayer. In his "Confessio" written in his latter years he shared this...
...I was taken captive...I was like a stone lying in the deep mire; and He that is mighty came and in His mercy lifted me up and raised me aloft...And therefore I ought to cry out aloud and so also render something to the Lord for His great benefits here and in eternity....
...every day I had to tend sheep and many times a day I prayed - the love of God and His fear came to me more and more and my faith was strengthened. And my spirit was moved so that in a single day I would say as many as a hundred prayers and almost as many in the night, and this even when I was staying in the woods and on the mountains...and I felt no harm and there was no slothfulness in me -- as now I see because the spirit within me was fervent.
I met a slave boy who became a man. A man who's calling and purpose was ignited during sweet and deep communion with the Father as endless days and nights passed on Ireland's steep slopes and deep valleys. His captivity proved to be the place of Divine impartation and preparation for what lay ahead.
I met a man who walked extraordinarily closely with the One who loved, protected, encouraged and made plain his path. A man who was favored with glorious Divine encounters, interventions, dreams and visions.
I met a man who knew who He was in Christ Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. Demons scattered, bondage's shattered and the spiritual course of Ireland was mightily changed.
I met a man who traveled the roads and forded the rivers of Ireland for 30 years to share the joy of Redemptions story with everyone he met.
I met a man who by the time of his death had baptized tens of thousands and established hundreds of churches throughout Ireland.
I met a old man, St. Patrick, who at the end of his race looked back in awe and proclaimed....
....Those who never had knowledge of God but worshipped idols....have now become sons of God.
Friends, I will never ever think of St. Patrick's day the same. The world may have reduced it to green beer, corned beef and glittery green shamrocks. But I see it as a testimony of the love, mercy and grace of our God who performs miraculous deeds through ordinary men like you and I to reach the lost, bound and broken and set the captive free. God has given each of us a special purpose and a unique voice to make a difference for His Kingdom. May our hearts be challenged to seek Him like never before and boldly live out our lives as a true testimony to Him and His goodness! To God be all the Glory!!
HE IS FAITHFUL!!
Love and Sweet Blessings!