Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | February 19, 2020

A Restless Heart

Movement is an essential component of searching for God.

The movement of our lives is a reflection of our choices. Christian writer Erwin McManus observed, “The most spiritual activity you will engage in today is making choices. Our choices either move us toward God and all the pleasure that comes in Him or steer us away from Him to a life of shame and fear” (from “Seizing Your Divine Moment”).

Saint Augustine (354-430), the early Christian theologian, would agree. He wrote what many theologians consider to be one of the greatest sentences ever written: “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

These words are recorded in Confessions, one of Augustine’s most well known writings in which he discussed his long journey towards Christ and his conversion to Christianity. This restlessness, whether we recognize it or not, is a desire to know God and to have a relationship with Him.

Written in Latin, Augustine’s sentence reads: “Fecisti nos ad te, Domine, et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te.”

The Latin words “ad te” are usually translated into English as “for yourself.” However, the preposition “ad” actually expresses dynamic movement towards an object. In other words, God has made us “toward” Himself. We exist “toward” or “in movement to” Him. The preposition “in” as in the Latin “in te” signifies rest in an object — in this case, rest in Him.

Apart from God, Augustine’s heart was restless and homeless. The story of his life is the story of a homeless person’s journey toward his new home. It was not until Augustine came to Christ that his heart found its true home.

The writer of Ecclesiastes said that God “has put eternity into man’s heart” (Ecc. 3:11). These words anticipate Augustine’s words: “You stir man to take pleasure in praising You, because You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.”

The writer of Ecclesiastes affirmed that God created us with a longing for eternity. Augustine called attention to the restlessness we experience apart from knowing God in Christ. May we be sensitive to those whose wandering hearts are homeless and longing for rest. And may we encourage them to move toward God and to find much-needed rest in Him.

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