The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God endures forever. –Isaiah 40:8 NIV
On St. Patrick’s Day, it seems, everyone is Irish.
We love the story of the man who supposedly drove out the snakes from Ireland and used a shamrock, with its three leaves, to teach the Irish about the Trinity.
We do love our heroes, and we do love our holidays, don’t we? But how often do we stop and think about the holiday we’re celebrating? Or do a little research into the real life of the hero?
We associate St. Patrick – and the shamrock – with Ireland.
But in reality, he was actually the son of wealthy Roman citizens who was kidnapped as a teenager and taken to Ireland, where he was sold as a slave. Like Moses and David of old, Patrick spent his days and nights on a lonely mountainside watching his master’s sheep, often in brutal conditions.
After six years, he escaped and returned home, no longer the spoiled and rebellious teenager he was when he was abducted. Instead of assuming a life of privilege as his family expected, he felt called to return to Ireland – this time as a missionary. The rest, as they say, is history. Or legend. Or myth.
Actually, there were no snakes in Ireland for Patrick to banish. Except the snakes of paganism, superstition, petty Irish rulers and religious leaders who jealously guarded their turf. And the shamrock? According to one of Ireland’s leading botanists, “Shamrocks exist only on St. Patrick’s Day. Every other day of the year, it’s known simply as young clover.”
Over time symbolism evolved into story, which we too often accept as fact. But the beauty of the legend of St. Patrick isn’t in the myths we celebrate. It’s in the true story of the transcendent purpose and transforming power of God in Patrick’s life.
You see, it was on that desolate mountain that young Patrick found God – and his true purpose in life.
Funny how God uses the hard times to get our attention. And change our lives. And transform us, molding us into the vision He has for each of us.
Are you enduring hard times?
Hang in there and work with God. He has allowed this time for a reason.
My friend and sister-in-Christ Lillie often reminds me of God’s view on our difficulties: “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD. ‘Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV).
We have to sift through legends and myths to discover the germ of truth in them, but we can take God at His Word.
And that’s no blarney!
Lord, it can be so confusing, living in this world, trying to discern what is true and what is false, what is fact and what is embellished story. Remind me to cling to Your Word in times of doubt, knowing that You never lie. Amen.
Read and meditate on Psalm 19
© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.