Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
A man lived over 1600 years ago and is still remembered today as one of the greatest theologians. His name was Augustine who lived in the 4th century and became a committed Christian in AD386 after many years of praying by his mother, Monica.
He was no ordinary man. He was ordained a priest and five years later appointed Bishop of Hippo. His writings are still read today, but he is remembered most for the powerful prayer, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
It’s a beautiful prayer and worth thinking about today. He was speaking from personal experience. Augustine had lived a wild and sensuous life even by today’s standards. He had a good education, but his father was a pagan while his mother Monica a believing Christian. But God interrupted him, and everything changed.
Searching for God
Augustine believed life is a search for God, and each step we make moves us either closer to God or further away from him. He said we are pilgrims and travellers, and only God’s grace can set us in the right direction. He maintained true joy, satisfaction, delight and happiness are only found in God—nothing else will substitute.
It was C. S. Lewis who said, “Our hearts are restless because we are made for another world”. Intuitively we know we need something to complete our broken hearts, minds, and spirits. Augustine rightly points out that our completion is found not in romance, wealth, nor learning but rather in the One who formed us. God Himself. That’s why David said, “…my soul finds rest in God alone” (Psalm 62:1)
Are you restless and bored with aspects of your life? This doesn’t mean you’re bad or lacking in contentment. Instead, restlessness can signal you are ready to explore new avenues of stimulation. The letter to the Hebrews says:
…let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 – Amp Bible).
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When you run a race, you move forward, experience new sights and challenges, discover new capabilities. God doesn’t call us to a static place where we shrivel up. We are called to grow, thrive, and press on. It is a normal part of human and spiritual development. We want to be loved, to succeed, and be happy. But there is a problem, a restless feeling we have. C. S. Lewis said:
These are only like the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have never heard, news from a country we have not visited.
Feeling Inner Restlessness
David prays in anguish to God:
Attend to me and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and I moan.
For many of us, have this inner restlessness, something we find hard to describe. We try to find this ‘something’ in our work, relationships, building more money for ourselves, or pleasure, to somehow fill the gap. But we forget God makes us for him. It’s only with him that we find true satisfaction.
Psalm 62 says, “I find rest in God alone”; then in Psalm 42 we read that “as the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you O God. Where can I go and meet with God?”
King Solomon asked a very telling question:
What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. (Ecclesiastes 2: 22-23 – NIV)
Then we have the wonderful words of Jesus, “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28 – NIV).
Bono describes his U2 band’s hit single “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”—from their 1987 album The Joshua Tree—as “a gospel song with a kind of a restless spirit.” Maybe that’s how you have felt. As if you have been searching and searching. Do you feel defeated and discouraged?
The only answer to the vacuum in our hearts is a relationship with God—knowing the Father through the work of his Son as applied by the power of the Holy Spirit. And the nurturing of this relationship, resting in and rehearsing the gospel is the great purpose of our inner man.