“God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” – St. Augustine
St. Augustine. What a man.
As a Catholic, I am used to hearing all about the holy actions of the multitudes of people we revere as venerated Saints.
Miracles like flying, healing the sick, seeing visions of Mary, casting out demons, body parts becoming incorruptible, being burned alive at the stake but not even feeling it – and so many more things that Catholics learn about when studying the lives of the Saints.
Saints who consecrated themselves to God and Mary at young ages like ten, or saints who led battles for God’s glory, died as a missionary, were persecuted for being Christians, hid in the silence and the dark of the night to attend Mass or a worship meeting.
But St. Augustine?
This guy is radically different.
Augustine was born to a Christian woman, whom we know as St. Monica, and a pagan father. His family was moderately wealthy, enough for Augustine to have a solid education and pave the way for his literary success.
But Augustine fell to sin when he was a young adult. Mistresses, raunchy theaters, a disregard for morality, spending excessive amounts of money on alcohol and parties…he fell hard. I am constantly reminded of my own failings here at this state college, about how so much of what goes on here is exactly the same as the temptations that Augustine faced in the 4th century. Satan isn’t very creative with what he uses to tempt us, but boy are we eager to accept what he’s offering.
Augustine eventually embraced the practices of a foreign religion, or spiritual sect for want of a better phrase, and began to throw himself wholeheartedly into the study of these teachings, completely foregoing his other education.
He avoided his mother’s pleading to return to the faith for a decade, though Monica steadfastly prayed for him.
It wasn’t until Augustine was 30 that he finally realized the error of his ways and found peace in Christianity.
Augustine went on to become a well known Catholic scholar, framing the theories of just war and original sin, writing several books included a book about his own conversion story, and became a bishop before becoming a Father of the Church and eventually a saint.
In his book about his early life, before his conversions, Augustine details this feeling of restlessness he constantly felt, and how he searched everywhere and in everything to find peace.
He then stated the quote I began this post with. “Our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.”
How powerful is that statement. Our hearts are restless. Our hearts strive. Our hearts seek out happiness. Our hearts are not content.
Our hearts are ungrateful.
Adam and Eve were ungrateful, discontent, with what God provided for them and sought rest in the wrong place.
We all know how that story ends.
But what of our stories? How will our restless stories end, where will we lay our hearts to rest?
Psalm 23 says that God makes us to lie in green pastures. Obviously we shouldn’t find a field somewhere and lay in it until we get a good’s night sleep, but God will give us peace and rest if we simply let Him give it to us.
I have yearned for a peace that can only come from God for years now. I have ached to just feel rested.
It is winter for me now, as I’ve mentioned in several previous posts. It is winter for my heart, and I hunger for the kind of peace that summer brings.
Summer, when I can fall asleep in the warm sunshine listening to the birds, the breeze, the wind chimes, the lawn mower. Summer, where I can wake up whenever I please then meander out to the living room and lie back down. Summer. My heart beats for summer.
My heart is restless until it rests in God.
My heart is content in God, peaceful in God, grateful in God. My heart is well rested in God.
Our stories do not have to end like Adam’s and Eve’s. Our stories can end like St. Augustine’s.
Our hearts do not have be to so tired and worn (remember that post? Read it here). Our hearts can rejuvenate and regenerate, there is hope yet.
Audrey Assad, a fantastically talented singer took Augustine’s words and put them to a beautiful song, “Restless.” She sings “our praises filling up the spaces in between our frailty and everything you are, you are the keeper of my heart, and I am restless until I rest in You.”
How beautiful to think that we can find peace simply by singing God’s praises.
Rest in God.
Don’t speak, just listen. Don’t complain, don’t ask for anything, just…be.
Just be in God.
Peace. Grace. Joy. Thanksgiving. Eucharisteo. Rest in God.
It doesn’t matter how long it has been since you’ve slept – I promise you haven’t forgotten how to.
Rest in God.
We know how their stories end.
How will yours end?