Saturday, August 24, 2013

Augustine: Finding Time to Read the Bible



In my early morning reading, I'm working my way through Peter Brown's amazing biography of Augustine.  This morning Augustine was beginning to feel the tugs of the Holy Spirit toward what the gospel of Christ means for the meaning of life:

"...is it true that nothing can be grasped with certainty for the directing of this life?  No: we must search the more closely and not despair.  For now the things in the Scriptures which used to seem absurd are no longer so.... 
I shall set my foot on that step on which my parents placed me as a child, until I clearly find the truth.  But where shall I search?  When shall I search?  Ambrose [the pastor of the church Augustine was attending] is busy.  I am myself too busy to read.  
And in any event, where can I find the books?  Who has them, or when can I procure them?  Can I borrow them from anyone?  
I must appoint set times, set aside certain hours for the health of my soul.  A great hope has dawned: the [Christian] faith does not teach things I thought and vainly accused it of.... Do I hesitate to knock, that other truths may be opened?  
My pupils occupy the morning hours [August was employed as a professor], but what do I do with the rest?  Why not do this?  But if I do, when shall I have time to visit powerful friends of whose influence I stand in need, or when prepare the lessons I sell to my pupils, or when refresh myself by relaxing my mind from too close preoccupation with my heavy concerns?"
~St. Augustine
This is exactly the struggle we all have when God begins to call us out of the shadows & into real life:

Is it true that life is as shallow as the world would have me believe?  No.  I must search and not despair, for the Scriptures no longer seem absurd to me.  They are true.  I will search them until I find this truth.  But when?  How?  There are 1,000 excuses.  And yet, I must do this for the health of my soul.  A great hope has dawned!  Am I just scared of what this truth will end up requiring of me?  What will I have to sacrifice in my "busy," cluttered life to search the Scriptures?

"Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?"  ~ Matthew 16





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