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What a sham!



Have you ever wondered why the shamrock is associated with St. Patrick's Day? As legend has it, St. Patrick, the iconic 5th century Irish bishop, used the shamrock (i.e., three-leaf clover) to illustrate the Holy Trinity to his parishioners and the Irish populace. A beautiful plant found in ample abundance throughout Ireland, I cannot think of a better object lesson!


Of course, this story may very well be false. Scholars have considerable trouble pinpointing St. Patrick's date of birth or even what he did during the course of his ministry in Ireland. I doubt if we can put much stock in this minute detail from his life. Yet, from a cultural and sociological standpoint, we do put significant stock in it, and thus the shamrock, its green color, and its associated patriarch are forever linked with March 17th. Whether true or not, the legend endures.


But isn't this like so many things in life? All too often we don't seek out the "ground truth." If a story is good, we run with it. Our co-worker is said to be having an affair; we gossip the affair. A friend is accused of having said something behind our back; we get angry at the friend. We are told the boss is upset with us; we avoid the boss. It doesn't matter if the "stories" are true. We have a tendency to accept things at face value without investigating them further.


Yet, as people of faith, this is irresponsible. The Psalmist cries in Psalm 25:5, "Guide me in your truth and teach me" (NIV). As believers, we are supposed to chase after truth like a predator races after its prey. A lion doesn't chase an antelope for 300 feet and then stop. He chases the antelope until he captures it or completely exhausts himself trying. This is how we are supposed to pursue truth: giving up only after we've exhausted every opportunity to find it.


Shamrocks are fun and St. Patrick's Day is nothing more in America than a cultural or, in some cases, "lightly" religious holiday. The stakes are low. But when we consider many other matters in life, the stakes are much higher, and, thus, our desire for truth should be piqued. Whether it's politics, work, church life, family, or friendships, sing the heart song you were designed to sing: "Guide me in your truth, O Lord, and teach me!"

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