St Augustine’s Struggle in life & Conversion to Christ & what that means to us?

Recently I dug out my History Final I on Augustine’s life, and I thought his life’s Confession book is a phenomenal book on his struggle, failures, but in the mist all these, his sharp and singular focus is invariably God. It’s amazing for him to do that. And we need that. That makes all the difference. For most of us, when we go through struggles, out focus is asking God to help, but God has not really been in our journey before, during, and after struggles. And the reason of our struggles is not God focused.  That’s why this blog article matters. Our human tradition and tendency is to get material wealth and achievements in schools, college, work, because that’s how our society has ingrained into us. It’s a performance driven society, which explains why college students face depression, anxieties, and the like. And not only them, but also working people, professionals striving to make ends meet for their families. Our focus seems to be on human achievement instead of God our creator.

Saint Augustine’s -One of the greatest Theologian’s life’s Struggle

Augustine of Hippo, one of the greatest theologian/pastors that ever lived, struggled against flesh, lust in his teen age. He was 16 years old and living a life seeking love and be loved, but was so obscured and overcast his heart that he was unstable to distinguish pure affection from unholy desire. He was confused and his passion was boiling over, blinding him, dragged into a whole lot of unchaste desires. But there seems to be something behind all these turmoil in his life that sure makes a lot of sense to help folks like us today.

Our focus seems to be on human achievement instead of God our creator

Our focus seems to be on human achievement instead of God our creator. Case in point when Augustine’s dad, one day, saw him at the baths and perceived that he was becoming a man, showing signs of adolescence, he joyfully told his mother about it as it already looking forward to grandchildren, rejoicing in that inebriation in which the world so often forgets God, our creator, and falls in love with God’s creature—the intoxication of the invincible wine that bows down to infamy. (P. 55, Kerr). That actually backfired on the young Augustine, as he felt like dad is more concerned about what he wants from him, rather than what’s best for him.

Augustine brought up a power connection that all of us must get hold of in such direness

However, Augustine went beyond mentioning that, but rather he brought up a power connection that all of us must get hold of in such direness. That is Augustine brought in the picture/image or the topic of God our creator. He lamented that he and his father did not look to God, but to what earthly pleasures though how temporal offer them. The fact that he lifted up his head at that moment and thought about God, is in itself God’s moving in his heart. But in the mist of all this downward spiral turn, the most important right thing that he did, he cried to God, and groaned before him. That’s a real solid sign that God will do something to a person. That’s what Jesus said, “seek me and you will find me.” 

There was also this recognition by Augustine of God’s voice speaking through his mum when his mum admonished him privately one time, regarding chastity, not fornication or worse adultery. He recalled after that that was the voice of God speaking through his mum to him. God can speak through anyone, but generally through those who care for you and those who have oversight over you.

Augustine also mentioned that (p.56 Kerr) he took pleasure in his exploits of boasting of their disgraceful acts to compete with his friends who were equally if not more lost. He was ashamed and angry with that, because he took pleasures not for pleasure sake only, but mostly for praise.

Augustine’s desperation & Conversion to God

And he became more and more desperate until one day he threw himself under a tree before the Lord and poured out his heart to God with weeping tears pleading with God to end his uncleanness. While he was weeping in the most bitter contrition of heart, he heard a voice of a boy or girl saying, “Pick it up, read it. Pick it up, read it.” Out of fascination, he did and felt like a divine command came upon him and opened the bible and the first passage says:

 “Not in rioting an drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife an envying, but put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill the lusts thereof.” (Rom 10:13).

Augustine turned around and wanted to read no more, and needed no further, for instantly, there was infused into his heart something like the light of deck certainty and all the gloom of doubt vanished away. (p. 58 Kerr). This is the turning point of this young 16 years old man, crying out in anguish to God and he got it. He encountered God in a miraculous way and he was like Paul, instantly dramatically transformed, and emerged thereafter as the most influential theologian of all time.

I will affirm that we all need to have a heart that seeks him, and all the more we need to, and only our creator God will set us free and the verse is “put on the Lord Jesus Christ”.

[1] Hugh Kerr  Readings in Christina Thought (1990) Abington Press, 201 8th Ave South, Nashville, TN 37023 p 55

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