I love to tell stories to the kids I work with when they are smelling silly air (nitrous) and having a filling done or when they are not smelling air and I am cleaning their teeth. My favorite stories are about Dr. Boyd, my boss and their dentist. I share secret tales of when he was little, first started school, and when he was growing up-back in the 1900s. (The 70s and 80s are still in the 1900s.) We sometimes wonder – the kids and I – if he is really Rey Mysterio, the famous masked wrestler. Dr. Boyd tells us he isn’t, which is exactly what Rey Mysterio would say.
But, this week my very favorite story to tell the kiddies is the tale of Saint Patrick. Have you heard it?
There are many stories and legends about Saint Patrick. From Encyclopedia Britannica, history.com and a few other places, I have found the most interesting things.
Patrick was born in Britain about 389 to wealthy parents who were Christians. At the age of 16, he was captured by pirates-no kidding-and taken as a slave to Ireland. He worked as a shepherd during that time, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to God for comfort. Patrick escaped after six years of slavery and walked nearly 200 miles to the Irish coast. Somehow he managed to sail back to his home in Britain.
One of many remarkable parts of Patrick’s story is what he did after he got back home. As a result of his experiences, he became driven to convert the Irish people to Christianity. According to history.com, Patrick told that an angel appeared to him in a dream and told him to go back to Ireland as a missionary.
That’s an awesome idea! What a grand idea! But…Patrick’s religious superiors did not feel he was right for the job. He was not educated enough and they were reluctant to let him return to Ireland as a missionary. Time passed and finally, he was able to go.
He began his work in northern and western Ireland, where no one had ever preached about Jesus. The Irish people came to trust Patrick and became friends with him. He is said to have founded more than 300 churches and baptized more than 120,000 people. According to legend, the three-leaf shamrock was one way Patrick taught the Irish people about the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit).
Instead of becoming bitter, Patrick let his difficult experience push him to reach Ireland for Christ! The Bible is full of stories where real people (like Daniel, Joseph, Moses, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and on and on) faced real problems and God not only helped them through it, but He used it for good! He still does that today! He can use anything! Romans 8:28 says: “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him.”
We studied the amazing story of Saint Patrick last week with some girls who are overcoming drug addiction. Though he is not in the Bible, several parts of his story can be applied to them and to us. Many things, like drugs/relationships, enslave us today. We can’t get out of it on our own; we turn to something or someone for help. When we do escape the bondage, it won’t be easy; Patrick had to walk 200 miles and then catch a ship to freedom. God still had a plan for his life. Some thought he wasn’t educated/smart enough to be a missionary. Today, others may not see our potential, but God does! Patrick pressed on and God used his suffering and determination for good!
He still does that today!
I know a man who was laid off from a coal mine where he had worked for many years. It was a difficult time in his life and his family’s lives but God helped them through it. He had the opportunity to go back to school. He did go back, and became a teacher-his childhood dream! He is the best teacher ever!
A young and very bright college student was planning on becoming a dentist. She has an amazing work ethic and determination. She is fearless. I have known she will go far. Everything was going according to her plan when she suddenly became sick. She was diagnosed with a blood disorder. It has been physically, emotionally and mentally difficult. But…through the process of her recovery, she has changed her major to nursing. She will be an awesome nurse!
Has that ever happened to you? Are you going through a difficult time now that God will use for good later? Don’t give up! “Be strong and courageous, for the Lord is with you…” Joshua 1:9. (I wonder how many times Patrick whispered that to himself!)
Dawn Reed is a columnist for The Floyd County Times.