This week begins in the shadow of the world-wide celebration of St. Patrick's Day. This ancient character is revered as the Apostle to Ireland for his great Christian work there, as well as his faithful endurance of hardships and imprisonment for his faith. Born in Britain around 385, he largely ignored the Christian faith of his father. At about 15 years of age, he was captured on a raid and sold as a slave. He worked as a shepherd for a Druid, a Irish priest in the nature worshiping cult. During his period of slavery, the Christian faith he previously ignored became deepened and personal. At 21, Patrick escaped his predicament and traveled 200 miles to the Irish coast where he persuaded a ship's captain to take him home to Britain.
Once home, he studied for the priesthood and, eventually, became a bishop. Armed with his strong faith, he returned to Ireland with the determination to bring the Irish people to Christ. Legend has it that he consecrated over 350 bishops and established about 300 churches. Following his fruitful ministry of 30-40 years in Ireland, he died on March 17, 461. He left many legends of his life there, including that he drove the snakes out of Ireland as well as used the native 3-leafed shamrock to teach the Irish about the three persons of the Godhead: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Shamrocks have become synonymous with the Trinity and Ireland.
What can we learn from this historical character and Roman Catholic saint? Are there things in his life and ministry that can be helpful to us in our daily lives this week? The answer, I think, is "Yes!"
The first thing involves the issue of the ultimate source of life's events. For those of faith, this is God! It is far too easy to become blind to the work of God in our lives or to become satisfied with a superficial view of life. People of faith MUST recognize that whether seen or unseen, the hand of God is involved in the daily events of life. It is God Who is to receive glory from our lives, and it is God's purposes that are to be served by our words and actions. St. Patrick's capture and slavery were transformed by God into the Gospel's extension to an entire people. As Joseph recounts above, it was God Who sent him into Egypt for His divine mission.
The second thing we can learn is the genuine nature of life's events. What we often relegate to being "bad luck" or "coincidences" are often the divine design of God! Simply put, the "ordinary" events of life can be transformed into the "extraordinary" because God is involved! The unfortunate and horrific enslavement of St. Patrick was, in the long run, a blessed intervention due to the ultimate purpose that was served in his life. Joseph saw God's divine design in the salvation and preservation of his people through his slavery and rise in the government of the Egyptian Pharaoh. Both men saw beyond the appearance of the moment to see God's purpose to be served in their lives.
What purposes will you serve this week? In the people and events you experience this week, be faithful to the opportunities of service and witness as they present themselves. Whether you see it or not, the hand of God is at work in your life.......cooperate! Let your voice be His voice in someone's life. Your acts of kindness and love can become the tangible evidence of His grace as He touches lives through you! Make sure someone says of you before this time next week, "It was not a coincidence you were here, but God!"
May God be active and you cooperative......to His glory!