Sheep, Ireland, and God’s Sovereign Hand
This is the continuation of a series of podcasts started in Episode #642.
First came sheep, then a trip to Ireland, and more sheep! God’s sovereign hand moved Martha across the sea to reveal a spiritual heritage she never dreamed.
While you were saying that, Martha, which is, you know, hmm! I, I heard, “There are places in my heart where I’ve enthroned my pain and the sovereign God dethrones that pain.” And it just, it just kind of hit me that the beauty of God’s sovereignty is that there is not a single thing that is untouched by it. Or, based on our choice, walled off from it, because God will not violate my choice. I can choose to live this life in never-ending pain, in utter rejection of Him and taking myself to hell. And if that is my choice from start to finish, He will not violate it.
And we’re so used to running over each other – for each other’s good, right? – that we… There, I think there is a part of us and that’s, that’s the part where we enthrone that pain. There’s a part of us that says, “Real love will enslave you if it will save you.” I don’t know how else to put it. I, I… In my dealings with people there is, there is a place where I call it abuse to allow someone that much freedom of choice. Okay? Humanly it is… If you love somebody, you can run over them and you can take away their choice and take away their agency and take away their humanity. I mean it doesn’t stop with just, you know, “Let me get you help.” Right?
But God is so relational and He is so love and He is so a Father and a Shepherd and a Husband and Protector; He is so involved, John. The Sovereign Touch! He is so actually involved that He will not, cannot because He knows what that does. He knows that ultimately that is the, the true abuse, the, you know. I’m really struggling here to say this but what I saw was because of my upside down, because of my natural thinking, the mind of the flesh, which is topsy-turvy world. It just simply is, you know. When you come into God’s reality, you’re like, “Wow! That was completely backwards.” For years I’ve had it completely backwards. Ok then! But when I’ve enthroned my pain and I’ve enthroned “Oh, the injustice that I should have been treated with anything other than fluffy clouds,” and that’s, I say that a little sarcastically but with all truth. To be perfectly… My flesh abhors pain. But God’s sovereignty, every single place that He comes for me as sovereign, and every single place where I receive Him as sovereign and I bow down as sovereign… That interaction that you’ve talking about, Martha, and that you’re talking about, John, and I just never have seen before that like forgiveness there is a severing there. When the pain is dethroned, it’s not ruling me, it’s not owning me, it’s not tormenting me. He’s now on the throne. That love, that voluminous love, that joy, that infectious life (capital L) floods in and that old, dark death is gone.
And this is, I’m sharing this because this is, this is exactly what working on this book, what reading this book was like. It was the Holy Spirit lighting up some part of my life. Some corner of my heart, some up-side-down death place in the mind of the flesh that I was allowing to, to rule my other thoughts. And it was an unveiling of His love, not His cold, hard, distant ruling, you know. God is not like human government, you know? I mean it isn’t death and taxes. That’s, there is… And He’s so willing. He so wants to be known as He actually is that He will move heaven and earth for each one of us specks so that we can meet Him on that ground. It is phenomenal. It is phenomenal. And that, that, The Sovereign Touch engaged me on every ground and with every chapter because at, at the end of the day, it wasn’t speaking to my mind. It was speaking to my heart. It was a heart to heart deal and for that I am eternally grateful, John.
I want to tell a story that, that illustrates God’s unbelievable sovereignty that if we will let Him be God, if we will acknowledge Him as God in just the smallest way, He undertakes our lives to the most incredible adventure. Now this recording is on the 18th of March. So it’s going to come, come to light later on and we’ve just had the weekend that was about Saint Patrick. Sunday the 17th was, is St. Patrick’s Day and I, I had some thoughts about it that were personal. And then my Pastor, Dr. Reverend Schofield, preached on St. Patrick Sunday. I’m gonna you the, the link in, in this recording.
The link will be down below and in the transcript. You could go down there and go to the link to actually hear that sermon. (I am so sorry, I’m unable to link to this message because their sound guy was sick and they did not record it. ?)
But I, I want to tell you a story that may, doesn’t seem to relate to sovereignty but it is, is everything about sovereignty. We were invited to Ireland several times and I began to share with them that I was Irish. My, probably my grandparents and certainly, at least, great grandparents immigrated from Ireland and ended up in NY where many Irish settlers came. And our name, my maiden name is Blaney, B L A N E Y. And my father was adopted by a French family so he didn’t have an Irish background because he was, he was adopted as a five year old child. And so my father was always interested in connecting with other people named Blaney. And he would boldly call people in different cities we traveled to and see if he had any connection to them.
So when I landed in Ireland at the invitation of dear, dear people, we stayed in Portaferry and I learned there, that port of Ireland was the place where all immigrants boarded ships to immigrate to American and there was a little shop there named Blaney. So I went trudging in to try to make connection with my ancestors and I said, “Do you know of a family that immigrated to the United States named Blaney and one of their children was adopted?” They said, “We, Blaney’s, have never immigrated!” So I thought, “Ok!”
Well, I began to learn there was a little town in Ireland called Blaney. And the more I read about it… I read that St. Patrick spent five or six years in that village. And my dear friends agreed to drive us there, John and me, to see Blaney. And it was some distance. Was not a small gift.
So we came to Blaney and as I opened the door of the car and put my foot on the ground I looked and saw my own farm.
It looked almost immediately like it. I was like going “Oh, my gosh! That looks just like Suches. That looks like our sheep!”
Yes! It was white sheep on green grass with water beside it. And I had this strange sensation that there was a deep connection there. And later I would have verbalized it this way, “That God sovereignly took me there.” Just… I mean, I’d never planned it. I would have never done it even if I ‘d planned it. And He took me in hand and just carried me to Blaney, Ireland. And it was just a rural area sort of like we live in. But I understood that there was something in me that was bringing forth God’s sovereignty.
First of all, I didn’t plan for us to have sheep. I didn’t plan for us to have a farm. That was my husband’s idea and his dream to be a gentleman farmer and he wanted to have special sheep that John was able to find for him; a perfectly pure flock of sheep; the only certified scrapie-free sheep in Georgia. John found about twenty of them. And they were two… They were milking sheep which we never did. We didn’t take… They were pure pleasure; an education in many… Those of you who have been with me many years, you know I return to those sheep over and over again.
But… I did some reading about St. Patrick. They took us to his grave if I remember, John, at St. Patrick’s church in Ireland. We did a number of things around St. Patrick. I didn’t think a whole lot about it. I was more interested in my sheep and green grass on the edge of water. And… But as the years have gone by, particularly this weekend, Voice of the Martyrs sent out a writing about St. Patrick, a short version of his life, that was very impacting. And my pastor did an extensive research on St. Patrick. It was incredible what he knew, and about history and so forth. But what I began to realize is that I’m a spiritual descendent of St. Patrick; that my ancestors lived where he came and settled; one of the places he settled in Ireland.
We do not understand this man St. Patrick. My pastor’s sermon brings you to an understanding of this man that changed the world. He didn’t just change Ireland. He changed the world. His impact was unbelievable but he had a story that my pastor related to Joseph; an identical story.
So it’s… It is a priceless sermon. And I won’t, I won’t expose it. All I’ll just tell you is that in some mysterious way I really believe that I am influenced in my life by St. Patrick, just as the sheep were reproduced in my life without even my ever dreaming of such a thing; I never dreamed of a connection to St. Patrick.
But… And… He was not Catholic. There are several things that we don’t know about him that we think we know. And… So for me, that is a story of God’s sovereignty over my life. He for some reason wanted me to know that my ancestry was impacted, undoubtedly, by St. Patrick.
And more than just St. Patrick, the sovereign touch on St. Patrick’s life. That’s what, that’s what dynamically impacted the entire thing, is because he, he embraced the sovereign God. And he embraced His sovereign choices in his life and because he did, he affected the entire world.
Sheep, Ireland, and God’s Sovereign Hand – Episode #645 – Shulamite Podcast
First came sheep, then a trip to Ireland, and more sheep! God’s sovereign hand moved Martha across the sea to reveal a spiritual heritage she never dreamed. What adventure awaits you? What mystery will God unveil? What sight is His delight to share with you?