Augustine and Each of Us
“But what do I love when I love my God?…Not the sweet melody of harmony and song; not the fragrance of flowers, perfumes, and spices; not manna or honey; not limbs such as the body delights to embrace. It is not these that I love when I love my God. And yet, when I love him, it is true that I love a light of a certain kind, a voice, a perfume, a food, an embrace; but they are of the kind that I love in my inner self, when my soul is bathed in light that is not bound by space; when it listens to sound that never dies away; when it breathes fragrance that is not borne away on the wind; when it tastes food that is never consumed by the eating; when it clings to an embrace from which it is not severed by fulfillment of desire. This is what I love when I love my God.”
-Augustine, in his Confessions
What an orator! What descriptive praise that contains within it the tincture of a deep, rich relationship with God! When I read Augustine, I am amazed at the manner of his phrasing and wish it were more my own!
But not just an eloquence for the sake of being eloquent–I want an eloquence birthed out of reality. A vocabulary of praise built upon a personal knowledge of God. A love that overflows in song and paint and speech and life because of a deep well of intimacy with the Lord Jesus Christ. Anything less would be superficial and faux and would surely be found to be lacking when it is tested and tried.
May each of us have a heart that longs to proclaim as Augustine did: that there is a God whose beauty is so glorious, whose works so magnificent, whose life imparts such a life to us, and who is worthy of every praise we can raise.
And yet, even though our hearts desire such fellowship with God and such praise to come from our lips, our flesh is really quite weak. We fail to praise Him for His beauty because we are immersed and distracted by lesser beauties here on the earth. We resist spending time with Him because lesser pursuits have captured our attention. We mimic the murmurings of our daily news feeds and our grumbling displaces the gracious phrases that could flow from our lips.
Thankfully, our loving Father is continually calling us back to find our all in Him. Augustine’s words are one of His tools in pointing us once again to the pearl of greatest price, Jesus Christ. It is He who is worthy to leave all other worldly trappings behind for. It is He who is the greatest light, voice, perfume, food, and embrace. All else pales in comparison.