Sunday, March 17, 2013

I Bind Unto Myself Today

Well, I suppose it’s become a sort of unspoken tradition for me to post about the origins of the holidays :)

So, today is Saint Patricks Day....I’m sure you know the story, but I don’t think it hurts to hear it over again: 

Patrick was born around 400 AD to wealthy parents. His life was relatively uneventful until he was kidnapped by Irish raiders when he was 16. They took him to Ireland where he spent six long and difficult years as a slave. He was a shepherd and he spent most of those years separated from all other people. The Irish were cruel to him. No one, even had they felt sorry for him, would have dared to show the foreign slave any kindness at all. But Patrick did not despair. Instead, he turned to the one source where he knew he would always find strength. His trials drew him closer and closer to God and he became a fiercely devoted Christian. "The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more,” he wrote later on. “As did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same." "I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain."

One day, when the six years was nearly up, Patrick knew that God was telling him that it was time to escape from his Irish enslavers. He ran away, and then walked for over 200 miles until he reached the Irish coast, where he boarded a ship bound for his home, in Britain. On the way home, he had a vision -- sent from God -- of converting the Irish to Christianity. 

The next fifteen years, Patrick spent in rigorous religious training back in his homeland of Britain. All the while, he was planning and hoping and working towards going back to Ireland as a missionary to convert the Irish. At last, he was ordained as a priest, and he boldly returned to the land of his captors. He had two missions in his heart: to minister to the few Christians who already lived in Ireland, and also to try to convert the pagan Irish. 
Patrick spent the rest of his life in Ireland laboring at the work of fulfilling the Great Commission. 

Legend has it that Saint Patrick was having trouble explaining the Trinity to the Irish people. They could not grasp the concept of something being perfectly unified as one....and yet being three distinct parts at the same time. So one day, Patrick had an idea. He plucked one of the many three-leafed green shamrocks and held it up. “Is it one leaf or three?” he asked them. After contemplating it for a while, they replied, “It is both one and tree.” 
Patrick nodded, “Yes! And so it is with God.” 

He lived in poverty for the rest of his life, traveling about as an itinerant preacher. He suffered many hardships and overcame many trials. He feared no earthly afflictions --- even death. Through it all, he remained steadfast. Saint Patrick died on March 17 around AD 460. 

So you see, Saint Patrick's Day is not really all about leprechauns, or pinches for not wearing green clothing, or getting drunk. It's about a man who spent his life fulfilling God's purposes and living out the Great Commission with zeal. It's about him truly giving everything he had to follow his Savior's calling. And following Christ wherever that might lead him.


"I bind unto myself today
The strong name of the Trinity
By invocation of the same,
The Three in One and One in Three.

Christ be with me, Christ within me, 
Christ behind me, Christ before me, 
Christ beside me, Christ to win me, 
Christ to comfort and restore me. 

Christ beneath me, Christ above me, 
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger, 
Christ in hearts of all that love me, 
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger."
(-Saint Patrick). 

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