Posts Tagged ‘Confessions’

I’ve had the pleasure of reading through Saint Augustine’s Confessions over the past couple of weeks (only about half-way through it yet) and have been happily surprised to find it not at all esoteric or academia-centric. Instead, I’ve found it to be deeply insightful and thought provoking. I would compare the experience of reading Confessions to sitting down with your wise grandfather and listening to him narrate his testimony in vivid detail. Sure, at times you say to yourself, “Alright, Grandpa, you’re losing me here. I haven’t been able to track with you through that last argument for the past 5 minutes,” but eventually he concludes that line of thought and you sigh in relief as you eagerly await the continuing of his story. Oh, and he tells stories about things like stealing pears from a nearby orchard…sound like Grandpa?

Augustine’s Confessions is helping me appreciate the wrestling that goes on within a person’s mind in getting to the point of placing their faith in God, the saving work of Jesus Christ, and the infallibility of the Bible. We seem to have this strange idea in Christian circles that if we live out our faith properly, people will approach us and say, “You seem so happy all the time. What must I do to inherit everlasting life?” In reading Augustine, however, I’m discovering to an even greater degree that conversion is rarely so easily accepted. Walls are built up over time as people cling ever more steadfastly to their sinful inclinations of what the world and life are about. Augustine details how he came to work through his notions of strict materialism (can anything exist without physical substance/matter?). He couldn’t comprehend a God apart from material substance. He wrestled with the age-old question of “If God is sovereign and good, why does evil exist?” Even astrology tripped him up. Yep, the revered church father, Augustine, was into horoscopes and star-searching. Yet, through all of these obstacles to faith, God was faithful to bring along friends, speakers, and thinkers into his life to break down each of those barriers with love, probing questions, and compelling reasoning. Most of all, Augustine speaks often of his mother’s deep faith and desperate prayers for him. He says that she cried for him as if he was dead while he was unsaved, and prayed day and night for his salvation.

Let’s not discount the significance of our prayers and petitions to see others come to faith in Jesus Christ! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking “Well, if God is sovereign and has planned all things from before time, my prayers don’t matter and can’t affect anything.” That’s bogus! (Matthew 7:7-11, Matthew 21:21-22, 1 John 5:14-15, 1 Peter 3:12, Psalm 40:1-3, Psalm 5:3). For those you have for years been reasoning with and praying for with seemingly little fruit, don’t underestimate the eternal significance that has on that person’s life. Your loving debates and prayers for them may one day be a pivotal part of their testimony!

More thoughts may come after finishing the rest of the book, but for now I’m encouraged to be a chisel in God’s hand, chipping away at the stymies in paths of unbelieving friends. Perhaps I will never see if all the rocks were chiseled away, or God may use other chisels to achieve his purposes, but what a joy to be a small part of his plan for the salvation of sinners like me.