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Prayer, Plain and Simple

A Blessed St. Paddy’s Day to Ye!

In the book  wrote, “Nine Ways God Always Speaks” Jennifer Schuchmann and I offer the following about Patrick of Ireland’s spiritual contribution to the world: 

St. Patrick’s Day in America is merely an excuse for kids to pinch someone not wearing the right color and for adults to drink green beer. The shamrock is little more than an advertising icon for seasonal green milkshakes McDonald’s sells or the Muscular Dystrophy fundraiser. But these holiday associations are a far cry from the things the real Saint Patrick celebrated.

Patrick was a Brit and while a young man he had been taken as a slave to Ireland. After he escaped and returned home, he felt God directing him to return to Ireland as a missionary. Many amazing tales surround Patrick’s adventures in Ireland including his respect for the natural beauty of his adopted land and his willingness to leverage it as a tool for the gospel. One of the most famous examples of this was St. Patrick using the shamrock as an illustration of three in one.

The ancient Druids worshiped nature in general. They considered the trifoliate plant sacred. They associated it with the coming of spring and the rebirth of the world after the vernal equinox.

Instead of running from that pagan picture of nature, Patrick borrowed it, converted it, and repackaged it with Christian meaning. The clever saint used the three leaves of the clover to explain the counterintuitive doctrine of the Holy Trinity. God is three persons but one God. The concept is abstract. But a small piece of nature gave that idea a visible form.

Remember the C,S. Lewis quote about the association between sky and heaven–that God knew we’d make the association?

Did God also know what the shamrock would say to the Irish?

If he knew, he intended it from the moment he created it.

Perhaps God purposely created the shamrock to represent something more than green beer in March. If so, what other clues could we find in nature if we only pay attention?

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