Confessions: God Is Our Rescue
Who will grant me repose in you? Who will grant your arrival in my heart and the drunkenness that comes from you, making me forget the evils that are mine and embrace the single good that belongs to me, which is you?
Have pity on me and let me speak. What am I to you, in myself, that you command love for yourself from me?—but unless I give it to you, you inveigh against me and menace immense miseries. Is my misery a petty thing if I don’t love you? Pitiful me, in that case!
Tell me, in the name of your mercies, you, Master, who are my God, what you are to me. Say to my soul, “I myself am your rescue.” Say it in such a way that I hear it. Here before you are the ears with which my heart hears, Master. Open them and say to my soul, “I myself am your rescue.” I will run after the sound of your voice and lay hold of you.
—Saint Augustine, Confessions 1.5
I like the word 'repose'. The dictionary defines it as "a state of rest, sleep, or tranquility." In Spanish, the word posada, means a "hotel" or "inn." Both words share the same Latin root which means "to stop." Augustine asks, "who will grant me to stop in you? Who will grant him to rest in God? Who will grant him to sleep in God? The repose God grants us is so great that those who do not understand it perceive us as drunk (1 Sam 1:12-14). As Paul said, “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor 1:18). The repose God gives us is so great it makes us forget our own sins, follies, and imperfection.
Augustine asks, “Who will grant me repose in you?” The answer is none other than himself. Who can grant us repose in God other than ourselves? No one. We must all make that decision for ourselves; to stop. It stands to reason, then, if the choice for repose is our own, then the choice to be miserable is also our own. So, if we choose to be miserable, “Pitiful me, in that case.”
Though it might seem straight forward, our soul has a hard time identifying what will provide for its needs (this is why we have restless hearts). “Tell me what you are to me” Augustine begs of God. “Say to my soul, ‘I myself am your rescue.’” Augustine begs God to “say it in such a way that I hear it.” And if still, he cannot hear, he asks God to open his ears. Are you tired of searching yet? Even the saintliest will become restless from time to time. God stands near saying “I am your salvation” that we may choose to run after His voice. And sometimes, simply going in the right direction is enough to grant repose.
Brandish spear and javelin
against those who pursue me.
Say to me,
“I am your salvation.”
— Psalm 35:3
Lord, Say to my soul, “I myself am your rescue.”
Note: These are my daily reflections as I go through Saint Agustine's Confessions. Unless otherwise noted, I am using Sarah Ruden's translation of the original text, and the NIV.