Friday, March 18, 2011

Saint Patrick A Lesson In Forgiveness

Saint Patrick's life is a lesson in forgiveness.  He was raised in a noble family in England in the 5th century.  He had a happy childhood with his family and friends.  We know a lot about his life because he wrote an  autobiography before he died at 67.

When he was sixteen his whole life changed.  He was captured by Irish Pirates who invaded his peaceful village and made him a slave.  He was taken from his family and friends and did not speak the language.  They took him to Ireland, and made him a shepard in charge of a flock of sheep.  He relied on his faith of childhood and prayed to God the father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit every day.  During this time he developed a deep faith in God and relied on Him to give peace during this battle of loneliness.

At the age of twenty one God gave him a dream  of a plan to escape from slavery.  He acted on the dream and started walking to the ocean.  He had to walked 200 miles to reach shore but when he got there he saw a ship that was so clearly seen in his dream.  He wanted to get on the ship but the person in charge was afraid he was a runaway slave so the captain kicked him off.  Patrick prayed, oh please show me the way God.  Moments later the captain said I noticed when you were on the ship my dogs were quiet.
"I think I will let you back on the ship to quiet the dogs and have a nice journey." said the captain.

The ship landed in England, the land of his birth.  But the journey wasn't over.  He had to walk hundreds of miles to reach his homeland.  He traveled with some members of his ship and they cried to Patrick,
"If your God is so great ask Him to bring us food," complained the crew.  Patrick prayed and all of a sudden a herd of wild pigs came upon the travelers.  They feasted for days and celebrated their stomachs were full.

Patrick finally made it home to his friends and family.  They were so happy to see him after all of these years of wondering what happened to him.  Patrich enjoyed being in the safe home of his parents and rested for years.  He was still called to His faith which brought him through years of loneliness.  He had a dream which said, "Patrick, you need to go back to Ireland to share God's love with them."  He struggled  with the idea since the Irish had made him a slave for so many years.  But God kept giving him the dream and he couldn't turn his back.

He decided to become a priest.  He had missed  many years of school so he had to study for years.  He finally became a priest and shared his dream of returning to Ireland with the authorities in the church.  They felt he was not ready to endure such a task so they told him to wait.  Patrick was around forty years old when he finallly got the okay to return to Ireland.

Patrick prepared his supplies before the long journey to Ireland.  He brought with him other dedicated priests,  nuns, a baker, and various helpers needed for the mission.  When he landed he announced his coming with the beat of a drum.  At the time Ireland was a tribal society ruled by leaders who were Druids.  Patrick told the truth of God's love. God sent his only begotten Son Jesus, that if they believe in Him they will have eternal life.  The leader of the tribe was touched by God's Spirit and became a believer in Jesus.  His whole tribe followed his lead and the first Christians of Ireland became a community.

Patrick and his fellow brothers of the faith went from town to town to tell the good news of Christ's love.  During his time in Ireland Patrick was used by God to start 300 churches and baptized 120 thousand followers of the faith.  Many attempts were made on his life because the chief's of the villages were threatened their power would be taken away.  Patrick has become the Patron Saint of Ireland because of his committment to share the Gospel with he same people who had captured him as a slave.   So I think his life is a lesson in forgiveness to love the people who had once mistreated you.  These pictures were taken last summer on our wonderful trip to Ireland.  I imagined Saint Patrick praying to God for help as he relied on the Holy Spirit for guidance. 

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