“Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O LORD, God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16
Anyone who has dogs will know what is pictured here. It is a wonderful toy that you stuff with treats. Not only does it keep your canine companion busy for a while, but the problem-solving and chewing help use up hyper energy with the end result (you hope) being a calmer pup.
Today I spent half an hour digging out the old stale treats that no longer interest my dogs, then refilled the toys with fresh tasty ones. I often claim I don’t have enough time to get things done that need doing, so why would I place such importance on this? Well, my furry pets are my responsibility and it gives me a lot of pleasure to see them happy chewing on their doggy treat toys, and it also helps the household to have calmer pets around.
Proverbs 12:10a states, “Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast,..” It IS important to take care of what God has given me including the beasts in my family! So I make time for them.
What is the main message here? It is that we DO make time for what we WANT to make time for. I have had days where I spent five minutes reading a devotional, then two hours watching a good movie (British mysteries or Jane Austen are addicting) and another good hour working on logic puzzles. Priority check!
I’m speaking to “me, myself and I” here!!!
I decided this Lenten season that giving up something was not what would draw me closer to God. This is not to downplay anybody else’s efforts. You alone know what you need, and I know what I need—
a larger dose of God’s Word. If I can clean out my dogs’ toys for 30 minutes, then surely I can find 30 minutes (even if it is two sets of 15 or three sets of 10) to open-heartedly read from God’s Word. He finds pleasure in filling my soul with His promises, and this time just may serve to exchange my own nervous energy for calm, making my household a more peaceful place for both my human and my furry family.
Job 23:12b says, “I have treasured up the Words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” I’m taking care of my dogs’ necessary food. It’s time to prioritize feeding my soul.
Long ago this was a common greeting in Ireland meaning “the best part of the morning to you” and you my friend would say back to me, “And the rest of the day to you”.
I am an O’Brien, which on the Emerald Isle means “House or descendant of Brian”. (Brian Boru was the High King of Ireland until 1014) Since I now hold the Irish married last name of O’Brien, I am often asked how our family celebrates St. Patty’s day. While most people drink green beer and focus on the modern symbols of leprechauns, four leaf clovers and wearing a green piece of clothing so they won’t be pinched ; my thoughts have gone deeper to an awe-filled pondering, the more I learn about the amazing real -life hero of St. Patrick.
How did he do it? I wonder.
How did St. Patrick forgive the Irish pirates that enslaved him? At age 16 he was kidnapped from Britain and taken away far from his homeland and family to a wet and chilly island called Ireland and for six years was mistreated as a slave.
But this is the part that really blows my weak and unforgiving heart and mind……..after arriving home he studies to become a priest and then travels back to share the good news to the very place where he was enslaved.
Whoa Nelly…..hold back that unicorn jumping over a 7 colored rainbow and slowly and carefully Ponder with me what appears to be humanly impossible.
So St. Patrick not only forgives the people who enslaved him, he spends 20 years traveling the island of Ireland to share the truth of how Jesus came to set them free. For the Irish people of the 5th century this included being free from druidism and all kinds of paganistic practices. He was beaten during this time and robbed and put in prison and enslaved again for 60 days yet he keep helping those that continued to try to hurt him.
How do you think he was able to forgive and then spend his life shepherding these lost people who worshiped false gods and people?
“After I arrived in Ireland, I tended sheep every day and I prayed frequently during the day. More and more the Love of God increased, and my sense of awe before God. Faith grew, and my spirit was moved, so in one day I would pray up to one hundred times and at night perhaps the same.” St. Patrick’s Confessio
He states that before he was captured, “He knew not the true God” and I believe that those years of prayer including much confessions and sweet forgiveness. In fact, he begins his autobiography as, “My name is Patrick. I am a sinner.”
After six years of working as an enslaved shepherd and most of all six years of prayerfully waiting: God spoke to Patrick in a dream, saying, “You have fasted well. Very soon you will return to your native country. Then a later voice in a dream said, “Look—your ship is ready.”
He escaped and walked 200 miles to the Irish coast, boarded a ship and eventually home to his family.
God rescued him and brought him home! One would think that would be the end of the story. But God. But God and His love for the Irish people who were involved with all types of paganism and perversions.
Patrick knew the Joy and the gift of being spiritually and physically set free and he quotes this verse that so speaks to his experience in his autobiography.
“Call on me in the day of your distress, and I will set you free and you will glorify me.” Psalm 50:15
St. Patrick knew deep in his soul that he had been forgiven much and so he wanted to extend that love, as a shepherd seeks to protect and care for his sheep.
After Patrick’s escape from slavery and reunion with his loved ones; He decides to become a priest. This took 15 long years of study and preparation. It was not until Patrick was 40 years old that he traveled back to Ireland because of another dream.
He dreamed that he was given a letter from the Irish people and he heard their voices saying, ” We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk again among us”.
Guess who is believed to be the first Irishman that St.Patrick successfully shared about the One True God to?
Milchu, a high priest of druidism, who was Patrick’s former master. (Druids believed that there were many gods and worshiped nature. Ritual Sites were built all over Ireland as they literally worshiped the sun)
Imagine Milchu’s surprise to have a former slave of his come back and not only forgive him of his own personal sins, but share how All his sins could be forgiven. Patrick came back to share the truth that there is only One True God who has three names: the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
( Did he use a three leaf clover to teach the trinity? or is this just tradition? either way He told them about the trinity and Patrick loved his former master and the Irish people so much that he came back and walked among them)
“His (God’s) gift was that I would spend my life, if I were worthy of it, to serving them in truth and with humility to the end.”
The ripple effect of Patrick’s forgiveness and mission is astonishing. What a beautiful ripple of Love: Patrick asks God for forgiveness and is set free of sin and forms a personal relationship with the good shepherd as he himself is shepherding. Then he forgives the people who kidnapped and enslaved him, and comes to tell them how to be set free of their own sins and come to know the One True God. Then Monks who came to know the one true God through the ministry of St. Patrick, lovingly write out the Bible by hand and preserve the precious Word of God. (Book of Kells) Then these monks left the Emerald Isle to share with other European countries about how to be set free. The ripple effect of love and forgiveness continues.
Patrick’s joy shines through as he writes:
I am greatly in debt to God. He gave me such great grace, that through me, many people should be born again to God and brought to full life”.
God Gives His Best to us and so we should want to Give God our best.
Just like the Irish greeting about wishing a friend the best part of the day.
Have you ever walked into a room and knew that a diaper needed to be changed? What if it was your own child? How long would you wait to change the diaper? Even if you knew that they would need another diaper change later that day, I bet you would help them.
I recently read about how confessing our sins to God is like getting our diaper changed in a book by Fr. Donald Calloway, and the analogy wouldn’t leave me alone. I keep thinking to myself, “Oh Lord, a certain family member really needs their diaper changed. He/she needs to confess and be made clean. I don’t like smelling the odor of their dirty words and their angry tone.”
And then God gave me a reality check through the words of Jesus: “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in our own eye?”
Ouch! Jesus’ question hit me like an arrow straight into my hardened, judgmental heart. It had been too long since I had spent time praying and asking God to show me what I needed to confess. Perhaps I am the one who is smelling up the room?
So I sat with my journal and asked the holy spirit to convict me of any selfish words, attitudes or actions that have offended my holy Father. The longer I sat the more the spirit revealed.
A verse I had memorized years before encouraged me that God would be faithful to help clean me up. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
So I encourage you to sit in quiet and spend time asking the Lord for what you might need to confess. Sometimes I start by meditating on God’s definition of Love in 1 Corinthians 13-4-5. “Love is patient, Love is Kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”
When I reflect on God’s sacrificial pure love in I Corinthians 13, I often get a reality check that my diaper needs a changing. May our reality checks always lead to attitude checks on how we love those in our lives.
I am slowly learning that our job is not to judge those around me but to love them and perhaps through our own joy of being made fresh, clean and forgiven; they might be encouraged to get clean too.
So my sweet sister, do you need your diaper changed today? I know I do.