Slavery to Freedom … and Back

Another week down with Covid.  I admit I’m a little bit discouraged today because it seems that we, as a people, just can’t come to peace with the thing. I hear from others in the world that there is a rising trend to just “move on” and let it run its course. But here in Australia, the government is determined to stop it with increasing restrictions and lockdowns. I don’t know what the best course should be, but it’s not hard to see the effect it’s having. Even our churches are finding it harder to be cheerful in the face of such restrictions. We want to do the right thing, obey those in authority and all that, but it’s frustrating.
I think it’s by God’s grace this week that we came across an excellent film while we are waiting out yet another “stay at home” order. If you have a Christian network or maybe PBS, check out “I AM PATRICK”. It’s a recent “doco” (as they say here), or documentary-movie about the life of the boy who became known as the Irish “St Patrick”, in spite of the fact that he wasn’t actually Irish.

The scene was set in the AD 400’s, not long after Christ had lived on the earth Himself. Patrick, about 16-years-old, was a well-educated and privileged son of a member of clergy in what is now western Scotland.  Like many youth, his ‘faith’ was not quite his own yet, but he was a nice kid and went along with what he’d been taught.

And then things got bad.  Marauding bandits came from across the Irish Sea. Patrick was captured and hauled off with several of his friends, whom he would never see again.  After a choppy three-day crossing, his captors made land, and he was drug off the boat, propped up and sold as a slave to the highest bidder. With no common language, and following gestures, he was pulled and pushed up a mountain, given a staff and told to mind the flock of sheep there.
Six long years passed.  But sometime during that ordeal, as he lay hungry, sick, wet and discouraged beyond measure, in a delirium, he had a real encounter with the Savior.  He became convinced that God alone was with him, and would sustain him. The experience gave him a sense of joy he had never known.

Gradually he settled into his lot, learned some language, made friends and began to tell them about his love of the Savior. Then one night, he had another vision, telling him that he would be rescued, and … well, ya gotta watch the movie.

Happy ending. Music turns to major, the lights come up and you start to leave the theater.

But wait …… Patrick did make it home and was re-united with his family. He enjoyed his mama’s cooking and the opulent life once again.

But soon he realized that he could not leave a pagan people in darkness no matter how much his own Anglo Saxon people (including his family and  the church) believed that neglect of these barbarians was entirely appropriate.
Patrick went thru the training and years of preparation and finally, with the guarded blessing of others, returned to Ireland.  There he managed to win, educate, baptize, train and start hundreds of congregations for Christ and His ministry. They were of ‘Catholic’ appearance as this was the only church at all until the 1500s and Martin Luther’s ‘reformation’.   Where and when Patrick died isn’t known, but decades later when the Anglo Saxons failed fell into barbarianism themselves, the Irish Christians were there, once again to come across the water, but this time to nourish, educate and win back most of Europe for God.

What a hero… and yet to our knowledge, Patrick never wanted or knew that he had garnered such respect. As I said, he died without notice, no one venerated him till many, many years later.  As far as he was concerned, he was just a guy who loved God and what He had done for a lonely, lost enslaved boy.

Looking at Patrick’s story, I’m encouraged to think that I could be happy in whatever situation comes my way, relishing in the fact that I am loved and provided for by such a wonderful Savior.

We may feel today that we’re ‘slaves’ to a virus that’s constantly changing and mutating, but God has never changed. He loves us as He always has, and He asks only that we turn away from our fears and toward His smiling Face.

Have a good week!

Marsha

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