“We may throw the dice, but the LORD determines how they fall.” (Proverbs 16:33)
Images of tiny green men, rainbows with pots of gold, and lucky shamrocks are all symbolic of St. Patrick’s Day celebrated internationally each March 17. Although he was not Irish, he was one of the most successful missionaries in history. Saint Patrick was born into a Christian family in the late 4th century at a time when the Roman Empire, of which Britain was a part, was on the verge of collapse and vulnerable to attack. When Patrick was sixteen years old, a group of Irish raiders invaded his village and took him captive. They transported Patrick to Ireland where he spent six years in slavery. In those Irish hills where he worked as a shepherd, he was exposed to a harsh climate and nearly starved to death. Often completely alone, he turned to God for comfort and companionship. He discovered a way to escape finding passage on a ship to Britain, and he was eventually reunited with his family.
Believing he had been called by God to Christianize Ireland, Patrick joined the Catholic Church and studied for 15 years before being consecrated as the church’s second missionary to Ireland in 432. While spreading and preaching the Gospel, he faced frequent opposition and was in constant danger of being killed for his bold faith. By the time of his death, believed to be on March 17 in 461 A.D., the island was almost entirely Christian. Patrick used his sturdy resolve and ambition to advance God’s kingdom in a mighty way, making him one of the great saints of the church. Early Irish settlers to the American colonies, many of whom were indentured servants, brought the Irish tradition of St. Patrick’s feast day to America. For thousands of years, the Irish have observed the holiday of Saint Patrick’s death by attending church services in the morning and celebrating with food and drink later in the day. Today, Americans of Irish descent rejoice on St. Patrick’s Day by participating in parades and engaging in raucous partying. As millions around the globe put on their best green clothing and toast the luck of the Irish – it’s a day when many claim that along their ancestral line, there is just a ‘bit of Irish in their blood.
St. Patrick lived his years as a great example for us today. Whether or not one believes his life held the “luck of the Irish” doesn’t much matter. For it’s easy to see that God’s Presence and Sovereignty were powerful throughout his years. The life experiences of St. Patrick are reminiscent of a different story that happened many centuries before. In the Book of Genesis (vs 37:1-50:26) – Joseph, a son of Jacob, was sold into bondage as a young man at the very hands of his jealous brothers. As a slave in Egypt, he lived many years under the rule of another and suffered in prison. He was unjustly accused of wrongs he did not do. He was forgotten by those whom he had tried to help. Yet even in his loneliness, weariness, and confusion – God comforted him. Just as He provided a way of escape for St. Patrick, God paved a path of freedom for Joseph. Slavery and imprisonment could not keep them contained, because the Lord had a greater purpose in mind. While some might describe their fate as luck, it is clear that both recognized who had been in control of their lives. In speaking to his brothers years later, Joseph said – “You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people” (Genesis 50:20).
St. Patrick would want us to remember him not for the secular revelry which has become so much a part of the day that bears his name…but more, as a reason to follow Christ. He stated this prayer: “Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise, Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me…” Years before, the Apostle Paul wrote – “In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Ephesians 1:11). The word ‘luck’ does not appear in The Bible or much adapt to the Christian faith. While the phrase “Good Luck” is often spoken by those who certainly have kind intentions, it’s important to understand that luck is a way of trying to explain things without including God in the discussion. Let’s honor Him with the sentiment of the Irish – “May God be with you and bless you, as He holds you in the palm of His hand.” Or just simply . . . “May God Bless.”
REFLECTION: When you look back on your life, what outcomes have you attributed to “dumb luck?” Are you able to rethink those events (good or bad) and attribute the navigation of your life to a Higher Power?
A NEW LOOKUP DEVOTION IS UPLOADED EACH WEEK. THE NEXT WEEKLY POSTING WILL BE ON SAT. MARCH 24, 2018. COMMENTS ARE WELCOMED.