“To praise you is the desire of man, a little piece of your creation. You stir man to take pleasure in praising you, because you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” -St. Augustine, Confessions.
The restless heart wanders far from God, it roams, as Augustine says, far from home.
The restless heart pursues vanities because it is tainted with sin.
Sin is to love that which only brings us pain, to delight in that which can not bring joy and happiness, only misery.
The restful heart is found by fully and completely loving God.
Yet, what does it mean to love God? Moreover, what does it mean to love?
At a fundamental (and rather reductionistic level) love is an intimate bond, or a mutual relation between two persons.
Even said so simplistically, one thing is clear: Love is personal. You can not actually love something that is not alive, for to love is to unite your soul with another soul. True, lasting love can, naturally, only happen when you put your love into something true and lasting.
Thus, when two people decide to marry, if they believe that “to love” means to always have an “in love emotional feeling” for their spouse, they then have a false idea of love and will subsequently become disappointed when the emotional intensity of this love disappears. Their love will only last if they love each in “in God”, thus making their conception of love rightly ordered.
If my idea of what something is, is not true to the actual reality of what that thing is, then sooner or later I will become either disappointed or possibly pleasantly surprised. Yet, more often than not I will probably be disappointed in regard to finding out that my idea of the truth of what love is, is not actually true.
It’s odd that we do not find the discovery of truth or the becoming aware of our ignorance pleasing. Why, if I find out that my previous ideas of love are false, do I feel disappointed and not delighted to be at a better place?
As C.S. Lewis has said, often the truth is more repellent to us, and less beautiful than those things we desire. And, yet, ironically, this is what we ought to expect.
For if Christianity could tell us no more of the Truth than our “own temperaments led us to surmise, then it would be no higher than ourselves. If it has more to give us, then it will be less immediately attractive than our own stuff or ideas…If our religion is something objective, then we must never avert our eyes from those elements which seem puzzling or repellent; for it will be precisely the puzzling or repellent which conceals what we do not yet know and need to know.” -C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
This is especially true when considering how exactly we are to find our rest in God. Because we, as Augustine says, have “turned from unity in (God) to be lost in a state of disorder and multiplicity“, we are now slowly being gathered up by God and this process is painful, for when something goes from ordered to disordered back to ordered again the process is never easy or pleasurable. God has imposed order and “the punishment of every disordered mind is its own disorder.”
Consequently, we should not run from the pain that is often associated with finding our rest in God, but we should see it as God putting us back together. Hebrews says, “all discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful ; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.” – Heb. 10:11-14
To find our rest in God we must love God and put our love solely in him. The deepest longing for our soul is for truth and wisdom. We are to pursue this at all cost, seeking never to avert our eyes from attaining true wisdom.
Fortunately, God realized that in our disordered condition the mind and the soul is maligned in darkness, error and false opinions. “The soul needs to be enlightened by light from outside itself, so that it can participate in truth, because it is not itself the nature of truth.”
As St. Paul says, “By His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption.”
God has in Christ given us the enlightenment and wisdom that our souls need. Jesus Christ enables us to be reconciled with God, thus allowing us to truly find our rest. The more we come to see and understand that our longing for truth and wisdom is found in our union with Christ, the more we will find our rest solely in God.
Our rest is found in our longing to know Christ. Our loves our truly restored and ordered aright when we become alive to God in Christ Jesus.
“You will light my lamp, O Lord. My God you will lighten my darknesses, and of your fullness we have all received. You are the true light who illuminates every man coming into this world, because in you there is no change nor shadow caused by turning…O Lord our God, under the covering of your wings we set our hope. Protect us and bear us up. It is you who will carry us; you will bear us up from infancy until old age. When you are our firm support, then it is firm indeed. But when our support rests on our own strength, it is infirmity. Our good is life with you for ever, and because we turned away from that, we became twisted. Let us now return to you that we may not be overturned. Our good is life with you and suffers no deficiency; for you yourself are that good. We have not fear that there is no home to which we may return because we fell from it. During our absence suffers no run; it is your eternity.” -St. Augustine, Confession
“My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.” Psalm 62:1-2.