Tag Archives: St. Patrick

Useful Alone-time

I just started a new Bible study at my church about David. In my readings of 1st Samuel, I was struck by how God referred to David as “a man after His own heart.” At this point—1st Samuel, chapter 13— Samuel had not mentioned David.

All I knew from these early chapters was about Saul, how tall and majestic he looked, how the people selected him partly because he looked the part.

But later, God rejected Saul as king because he had disobeyed Him. Then God uttered a devastating statement. “Your kingdom will not endure.”

When the prophet Samuel went to Jesse with the intention of selecting and anointing one of his sons to be the next king, he rejected each of the older sons. The youngest son, David— whom Jesse didn’t even feel was qualified to stand up with his brothers— was brought before Samuel. God said, (I’m paraphrasing here) “This is the one. Anoint him, because I, God, do not look at the outward appearance, but at the heart of the man.”

In our culture, we spend a lot of time and money on our outward appearance, hoping that an improved body will make us acceptable, even admired, or promoted, or place us higher on the popularity list.

But, as the Word of God says, “God does not look on the outward appearance of the man.”

Teenaged David was relegated to the lowest position of sons among Jesse’s tribe. He spent his days watching sheep, guarding them from predators.

A lowly task, though essential. Kind of like washing dishes or cleaning toilets.

But while David watched those dumb, but important sheep, he was also learning the ways of sheep:

  1. sheep can’t handle turbulent water
  2. sheep wander
  3. sheep are pretty stupid
  4. sheep sometimes eat what they shouldn’t eat
  5. sheep are pretty defenseless
  6. sheep need a shepherd to strategize about movement, food, safety

 

And while David sat all by himself, doing this shepherding job, he had lots and lots and lots of time for thinking. Doubtlessly, he remembered his father’s teachings about God and meditated on them.

He made up songs about God and played them. Does that sound like what lots of contemporary teenagers do up in the solitude of their bedrooms?

And all that time, God was using that alone-time to do a preparation in David’s heart. David’s knowledge of shepherding sheep later helped him shepherd people.

(I know of another shepherd, about a thousand years later who got to know God during his days alone in the fields. This man, Patrick, was later led by God to evangelize the Irish people.)

My husband is a social guy. He loves to connect with other guys. Unfortunately, his busy travel schedule keeps him from being able to spend time with other men from our church or to do something with any consistency in the local community.

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He comforts himself with the thought that this travel schedule will only last a few years. Besides praying for him every day, I tried to encourage him by saying, “You probably have no idea how God is using this alone time to prepare your heart for a future work.”

The same can be said for all of us when we place our lives in God’s hands and wait for Him to give us the “get-going” prompt.

Sometimes we have to wait a long, long time—at least in our opinion.

Hang in there! Think of David. Think of Saint Patrick. Oh, and think of Abraham and Sarah, waiting a hundred years for a son.

I’m sure you can think of your own examples.

Be a “man after God’s own heart.” Then ask God each day, “I’m here, ready for what you’ve got for me to do.”

Before you read this closing Bible verse, bear in mind that after Samuel anointed David, it was another 22 years before he was crowned king!

“So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power.” (1st Samuel 16:13 NIV Bible)

 

The Real St. Patrick

When I was just a little kid in elementary school, the only thing I knew about St. Patrick was that there was a day when we had to wear green or we’d get pinched by our classmates. I always thought that was a bit unfair since my small wardrobe contained no green shades and I’m not Irish, anyway.

But in 7th grade European History class, I chose to write a paper on the real St. Patrick. Here’s what I found:

He’s not a saint with a capital S. The Roman Catholic church never canonized him.

He’s not Irish. He was born in Scotland to a middle class family. Both his father and grandfather were prominent in the Christian faith. But not Patrick.

At the age of about 16, he was taken captive by Irish pirates and sold to an Irish king.

The king sent him out as a slave to herd sheep. This was a lonely, often dangerous job with no shelter or food. Patrick had to fend for himself. To deal with his loneliness and fear, he remembered the Christian God that his father worshiped.

Patrick eventually converted to Christianity. In his early twenties, a message from God encouraged him to flee his master and Ireland and try to get back to his family.

Patrick escaped back to Britain. He studied the Christian faith in a monastery. Thirty years later, he felt a call to go back to Ireland and spread the gospel.

The Irish people of that time were pagan, war-like, and hostile. Patrick faced death many times.

Patrick was pretty savvy about evangelism. He targeted royalty and the rich, figuring that when they converted it would be easier to lead the lower classes to faith in Jesus.

There was an earlier evangelist named Palladius, but he wasn’t quite as successful as Patrick. Patrick eventually became the bishop of Armugh.

Patrick used the formerly pagan symbol—the shamrock—to teach the concept of the trinity.

There are many stories about Patrick and it’s difficult, almost sixteen hundred years later to sort out myth from reality. But the Irish have good reason to celebrate the life of this bold and passionate evangelist, Patrick.

“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.'” (Mark 16:15 NIV Bible)