Y’all! I have some happy news to share in this short post. I’ll do that in a minute. But first I’ve got a quick update.
I’m nearly done with the draft for the Meek Not Weak (or A Taming Grace?) Bible study guide. Across five summers, 175 pages and a 25-page book proposal to boot, I learned that having real readers motivates me. Because in the last couple weeks, glory to God, I’ve condensed material into an actual-factual Bible study guide.
So this Thursday, Lord willing, my kind Bible study friends will begin a journey through the 12-week meekness study guide. I’ll edit and revise as we go. Then, DV, by November at the Empowered Women’s Retreat, there will be a table laden with a pile of meekness books.
Invitation to Action: Which title below would make you take a second look? Would you let me know with a comment below or an email reply?
A Taming Grace: How Meekness Frees Us To Rest In God’s Hand
Meek Not Weak: Reclaiming the Gentle Strength of Meekness
A Taming Grace: How Meekness Frees Us to Rest in Christ When Life is Hard
I’d be grateful for your feedback and your prayers.
In 2022, I resolved to submit articles for publication. I was inspired by a Hope*Writer friend who said her resolutions was to get 100 rejections. I didn’t go that far, but I did resolve to submit an article a month. That is up 1200% from the one piece I submitted last year.
The rejections have come. They start the same old way: “We received an overwhelming number of submissions and truly enjoyed reading through all of them.”
I knew the next line well, “We’re sorry that your submission doesn’t fit our needs at this time.”
But last week it said,
“I am delighted to inform you that we have accepted the following devotions to be included in the book. Congratulations on this incredible milestone of being published! We are celebrating with you.”
That’s update #2. The book will be released this fall.
But I admit, with this turn I am both humbled and delighted.
I am also grateful.Thank you for opening “your weekly doses of JoyPrO.” Thank you for investing your precious time in them. To you who share, comment, or send a note, please know you encourage my heart.
Invitation to Action: Is there a “tough topic in the Bible” or a practical “faith meets real life” topic you’d like me to take up?
A quick aside on this “invitation to action” business: the experts content creators must have a compelling call for action to increase engagement. Mine are usually not so explicit. But they’re there: obey, take God at his word, keep on.
Which reminds me. At the suggestion of two friends who mentioned they’d rather listen rather than read, I started a podcast. It’s called Keep On. For now, it’s just me alone with my phone in the closet and hopefully no Milky meows.
But one can never tell how a thing might grow. I’d like to branch out and do some seriously funny interviews and maybe some book reviews. Speaking of which, did you know I’m posting each month’s book club questions?
Invitation to Action: Subscribe to the KEEP ON WITH ABIGAIL WALLACE podcast or send a link to someone who’d enjoy 5-15 minutes of strong grace. Drop a line if someone you know (including you) can make us think and laugh in an interview.
Christ Exalting Is Why I Write
I promised this would be short. But I must add this bit, because this post feels a self-promotional and I don’t like that.
So I share now my deepest desire is that the words of my mouth will magnify my Lord. In other words, I write to make God look big. My earnest prayer is that you, friend, would be built up in your most holy faith as you see how in my struggles God is my refuge and strength. I write to show you that knowing Jesus Christ is the greatest treasure.
I am Patrick, a sinner, the most unlearned [rustic] and least of all the faithful and utterly despised by many. —Saint Patrick, Confession One
Sometimes I feel less-than. When I do, it’s often because I’m painfully conscious of how uncultured I am, keenly aware of my rusticitas. Like Saint Patrick was.
Cousins and friends have earned Ph.D.’s and my sister-in-law and nieces have learned Latin. While some of them matriculated at Wheaton and Moody, I enrolled at state schools. I’m far from the elite.
I grew up in the country. I milked goats and pulled weeds. Sometimes still I feel inferior when my manners fail me. I’m clunky at small talk, I use the wrong fork, and I’m not at all polished or chic.
In short, I’m rustic. Something like Patrick.
My History With Saint Patrick
I’m a fan of Patrick. Ever since I spent seven timeless days in County Clare, where many reside who bear my maiden name, Considine. I am still smitten by the Irish people, their language, and their patron saint.
Patrick, a sinner, a simple country person, unlearned and the least of all believers. Those are the first words of his Confession. That’s how Saint Patrick introduced himself.
This humble simplicity is what first drew me to Patrick. But not everyone knows Patrick from his own words.
Will the real Saint Patrick please rise?
Many think of Patrick a the bearded, mitered, banisher of snakes and worker of miracles who roamed the Emerald Isle with a staff in one hand and a shamrock in the other—to teach the Holy Trinity, you know.
That Patrick is not real.
Patrick was not a leprechaun. Nor was he a legend, although legends about him abound.
Patrick did not expel snakes from Ireland: the snakelessness of Ireland had been noted by the Roman geographer Solinus in the third century. He did not compose that wonderful hymn known as ‘Saint Patrick’s Breastplate’: its language postdates him by about three centuries . . . He did not use the leaves of the shamrock to illustrate the Persons of the Trinity for his converts: true, he might have done; but it is not until the seventeenth century that we are told that he did.
Richard Fletcher, The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity, 82
What we do know of St. Patrick comes through two ancient texts: his Confession and his Letter to the Soldiers of Coroticus. You can access them here. He wrote both, handicapped, as it were, by his late-learned, unrefined Latin skills.
From them, we discover that Patrick was not Irish but British by birth. Magonus Sucatus Patricius was born to a good Christian family around 390 Roman Briton. He admits, though, that he was not a very good Christian growing up.
Irish raiders kidnapped the teen-aged Magonus, or Maewyn, and took him as a slave to Ireland. Alone in that “strange, wild land,” the rustic renegade Patrick turned to the God. While shepherding on the Irish hills, he came to know the Lord as his Shepherd.
Patrick’s Visions And His Calls
Six years a slave, he heard a voice call, “Come see, your ship is ready.” Heeding, he fled and reached a port perhaps 200 miles away. At first denied passage, he went away and prayed. Before he even finished his prayer, a sailor shouted, “Come quickly, for they are calling you.”
Patrick reached mainland Europe a few days later with his pagan shipmates and made his way through France to a monastery in Italy. Some years later, he returned to home to his parents in Britain. They begged him never leave again.
Alas, there soon came a life-changing vision in which a man came to him with countless letters from the Irish,
[A]nd I read the beginning of the letter, the voice of the Irish people. While I was reading out the beginning of the letter, I thought I heard at that moment the voice of those who were beside the wood of Voclut, near the western sea. They called out as it were with one voice: “We beg you, holy boy, to come and walk again among us.” This touched my heart deeply, and I could not read any further; I woke up then. Thanks be to God, after many years the Lord granted them what they were calling for.
Confession, ch. 23
They were calling for a holy boy who had grown into a humble man.
Why Saint Patrick Is My Guy
Here are six reasons why-1600 years hence-the patron saint of Ireland still endears himself to this rustic, middle-aged, Midwestern, Christian mama.
1. Patrick felt his rusticitas [lack of learning and culture], but kept pressing on to proclaim Christ.
Patrick was uncultured, at least when compared to intellectuals and Church leaders of his day. While his peers were studying Latin and Greek, Patrick was herding sheep. His speaking and writing skills were not refined. I’ve read that he confused words like Helios (sun) and Helias (Elijah). I may have had typos. So I have sympathy.
If I had been given the same chance as other people, I would not be silent, whatever the reward. If I seem to some to be too forward, with my lack of knowledge and my even slower tongue, still it is written: ‘Stammering tongues will quickly learn to speak peace.’…
The Spirit is a witness that even what is of the countryside [rusticity, backwardness] is also created by the Most High! So I am first of all a simple country person, a refugee, and unlearned. But this I know for certain, that before I was brought low, like a stone lying deep in the mud. Then he who is powerful came and in his mercy pulled me out, and lifted me up and placed me on the very top of the wall. That is why I must shout aloud in return to the Lord for such great good deeds of his, here and now and forever, which the human mind cannot measure.
Confessions, ch. 11-12
Patrick wasn’t an elite or erudite, but he had a story to tell. That story trumped his rusticitas and kept his inferiority from becoming a complex. We have a story to tell, too. We were once like a stones lying deep in the mud until the powerful One pulled us out.
Will our stammering tongues speak?
2. Patrick endured many hard times, but overflowed with thankfulness.
In an age when the shortest wait and the smallest mistreatment sets some off, when videos won’t buffer in three seconds and three minutes in the drive through is too much, we would do well to follow Patrick’s thankful example.
So I’ll never stop giving thanks to my God, who kept me faithful in the time of my temptation. I can today with confidence offer my soul to Christ my Lord as a living victim. He is the one who defended me in all my difficulties…This is how I come to praise and magnify your name among the nations all the time, wherever I am, not only in good times but in the difficult times too. Whatever comes about for me, good or bad, I ought to accept them equally and give thanks to God. He has shown me that I can put my faith in him without wavering and without end.
Confession, ch. 34
Will you resolve again to continually offer a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that confess his name? It’s what Patrick did. He presented himself to God, a living victim.
Do we, in everything give thanks to God?
3. Patrick loved Ireland’s green hills, but so much more, the lost souls who dwelt among them.
He knew better than many of us know how to engage a pagan culture. Saint Patrick knew how to be in the world and not of it. To converse and engage. Saint Patrick, I suspect, was winsome and listened.
His example challenges me. Because too often I stand off and let my rusticitas and bumpkin-ness excuse my distance. I’m not smooth and witty enough to enter into their world. But Saint Patrick pitched his tent beside chieftains, to befriend and convert.
Then he’d do it over again,
…Fishing well and with diligent care, as the Lord commands, “Go and make disciples of the nations….” spreading wide the net so that a great throng might be captured for God. How has this happened in Ireland? Never before did they know of God except to serve idols and unclean things. But now, they have become the people of the Lord, and are called children of God. The sons and daughters of the leaders of the Irish are seen to be monks and virgins of Christ.
Confession, ch. 40-41
Do we pitch our tents in among lost souls?
4. Patrick knew God’s Word and took it to heart.
Saint Patrick was called a homo unius libri (a one book man); but with that one book, Patrick was extremely familiar. His writings are crowded with Bible verses and phrases, probably quoted from memory. God’s words peppered his words. Patrick is my patron saint because I want to write, and to talk, like that.
Author Richard Fletcher, says Patrick was soaked in the Bible. Are we so soaked that we make and explain our choices through its lens? Is our blood Bibline? Spurgeon said of Bunyan, Prick him anywhere—his blood is Bibline, the very essence of the Bible flows from him. He cannot speak without quoting a text, for his very soul is full of the Word of God.)
I am not trying to judge myself, since every day there is the chance that I will be killed, or surrounded, or be taken into slavery, or some other such happening. But I fear none of these things, because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of almighty God, who is the ruler of all places, as the prophet says: “Cast your concerns on God, and he will sustain you.”
Confession, ch. 55
Patrick knew the Bible and took it to heart. He quoted the Psalm back to himself. He cast himself on God.
Patrick knew life was a duel with the flesh till the death. He felt the pull of enticing things which would pull him away from his Lord.
I know I cannot trust myself as long as I am in this body subject to death. There is one who is strong, who tries every day to undermine my faith, and the chastity of genuine religion I have chosen to the end of my life for Christ my Lord. The flesh can be an enemy dragging towards death, that is, towards doing those enticing things which are against the law. I know to some extent how I have not led a perfect life like other believers. But I acknowledge this to my Lord, and I do not blush in his sight. I am not telling lies: from the time in my youth that I came to know him, the love and reverence for God grew in me, and so far, with the Lord’s help, I have kept faith.
Confession, ch. 44
Do we give up, give in, give way to sin? Or with Patrick, do we daily fight the good fight by faith?
6. Patrick saw thousands of splendid Irish sunsets, but he worshiped the one true sun.
We bow to created things- to fitness and fashion, to athletics and entertainment, to food and comfort and praise – over the Creator. From the top of Croagh Patrick (pictured above) I saw the same sun setting from the precise point that Saint Patrick saw it set. In Irish mist, he may have been a sun stalker too. In any case, his warning rings true.
The sun which we see rising for us each day at his command, that sun will never reign nor will its splendour continue forever; and all those who worship that sun will come to a bad, miserable penalty. We, however, believe in and adore the true sun, that is, Christ, who will never perish. Nor will they perish who do his will but they will abide forever just as Christ will abide forever.
Patrick’s Christianity was simple, direct, practical, as earthy as it is mystical, not so much Roman Catholic as baseline Christian, and not so much Irish as truly universal(The Wisdom of St. Patrick, Greg Tobin). Patrick was at once brave, bold pioneer-missionary and humble, servant-shepherd of God’s Irish flock. He was zealous and honest, ever aware of his own short-comings, and forever God’s grateful debtor.
In his final Confession, Patrick prays,
… for those who believe in and fear God. Some of them may happen to discover this document and read its words, composed in Ireland by an unlearned sinner named Patrick. May none of them ever say that whatever little I accomplished was a work of this ignorant man alone. No, rather, know this: that it was a gift from God and that it occurred only for God’s good reasons. And that is my confession before I die.
Confession, ch. 62
Irish history is a dramatic tale of turning from idols to serve the living God. It’s a remarkable true story of a pagan world turned totally upside-down, converted. An unlearned, rustic sinner named Patrick had an awful lot to do with it.
That is why this 21st-century Protestant claimed a humble rustic as a patron saint. That is why I celebrate Patrick today.
This is what the LORD says:
“Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom or the strong man boast in his strength or the rich man boast in his riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this:
That he knows and understands me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.”
He was “only a man.” But George Washington was God’s gift—reasonable, humble and wise. He was the right man to lead a divided, infant nation.
Our book club just finished Nathaniel Philbrick’s, Travels With George. “It could be argued,” Philbrick wrote, “that the only reason the Constitution was ultimately ratified by the nine states required to trigger a national election was that no matter what a person believed about the merits of the new government, everyone could agree that only Washington should lead it.”
Tradition has it that when wide-eyed, star-struck met him face-to-face, he would say, “I am only a man.”
Those 12 Quotes
1. Nothing is a greater stranger to my breast, or a sin that my soul more abhors, than that black and detestable one, ingratitude.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to Governor Dinwiddie, May 29, 1754
2.By the all-powerful dispensations of Providence, I have been protected beyond all human probability and expectation; for I had four bullets through my coat, and two horses shot under me, yet escaped unhurt, altho’ death was leveling my companions on every side.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, Letter to John A. Washington, July 18, 1755
3. While we are contending for our own liberty, we should be very cautious not to violate the rights of conscience in others, ever considering that God alone is the judge of the hearts of men, and to him only in this case they are answerable.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to Benedict Arnold, September 14, 1775
4. The determinations of Providence are always wise, often inscrutable; and, though its decrees appear to bear hard upon us at times, is nevertheless meant for gracious purposes.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to Bryan Fairfax, March1, 1778
5. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is the best policy.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, Farewell Address to the People of the United States
6. Do not conceive that fine clothes make fine men any more than fine feathers make fine birds.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to Bushrod Washington, January 15, 1783
7. To contract new debts is not the way to pay old ones.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, letter to James Welch, April 7, 1799
8. There is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists […]an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789
9. The propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, First Inaugural Address, April 30, 1789
10. If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.
GEORGE WASHINGTON, Address to the Officers of the Army, March 15, 1783
11. Happiness depends more upon the internal frame of a person’s own mind than on the externals in the world.
But our first President was also a modest and reasonable man. He didn’t need to force his way. He preferred the good of his nation over his own private good.
Philbrick again, “Unlike Hamilton and Jefferson, Washington didn’t need to be right all the tie. He just wanted to make things work. He understood that feasible change is not attained by righteous indignation; it’s understanding that the road ahead is full of compromises if life is actually going to get better.”
Yes, our first President was “only a man.” But like the best of leaders, his humility was great.
Enter Allison, one of those new friends. She is young, fresh and from the Pacific Northwest. But what really drew me to Allison is her passion and zest for helping women become rooted in God’s Word. I trust you’ll be blessed by her post.
I can still feel the silence that rang in my ears as he shut the door behind him.
It was January 2020. My husband had left for a six-month deployment after a tearful and much-dreaded goodbye.
I couldn’t have imagined the quiet that would follow. Little did we know the world would soon shut down for the pandemic, leaving me home alone with only my feisty kitty Daisy for company.
As many of my habits and patterns were interrupted, I found myself with more time on my hands than I had experienced in my adult life. The many distractions, some meaningful and some not, seemed to fall away.
It was through small acts of imperfect obedience that I drew near to God. I chose to open up His Word rather than hit “next episode” on Netflix., chose worship music when I could have chosen pop music, chose to give thanks even as I cried tears of loneliness.
My obedience was flawed and inconsistent, yet I could feel Him draw near to me when I drew near to Him, just as He promises in His word (James 4:8). More than ever, I craved His presence.
Joy Takes Root
As I drew nearer to Christ, I encountered a joy that wasn’t rooted in circumstance or temporary pleasure. Instead, it was a joy with a much firmer foundation. I experienced joy rooted in the everlasting faithfulness of a Savior who is always by my side.
This is a joy we can’t maintain on our own by willing ourselves a “can-do” attitude. Rather, we must humbly come before Christ each day asking Him to renew our joy in Him. When we do, we will find our joy doesn’t rely on something as shaky as our occupations, bank accounts, or physical appearance.
We will find our joy is rooted in Christ. This is the only joy that will never fail and will bring about the only outcome worth living and dying for—experiencing the presence of our Lord.
Are you ready to draw near to Christ through studying His word?