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Confessions: Do I actually dare to say that you were silent?

Do I actually dare to say that you were silent, my God, when I went farther away from you? But were you truly silent to me at the time? Whose words were those if not yours, the words you chanted in my ears through my mother, who was devoted to you? But from that source nothing made its way down into my heart to make me obey… But they were your warnings, and I didn’t know. I thought you were silent and she was speaking, though it was through her that you weren’t silent.— Saint Augustine, Confessions 2.7

God speaks to us in many ways, one of which is through the people in our lives. When God is silent in all other realms of our lives, we should ask ourselves, ‘might God be speaking to me through some godly person right now?’ We ignore outside voices because we do not like people speaking into our lives, especially when they disagree or challenge us.

As Augustine notes, he did not listen to God’s voice, or even consider that it could be his voice, because of the ‘source.’ In other words, he didn’t listen because it was his mother. When we think God has become silent, that is when we should turn our ear to the trusted godly people in our lives. The challenge for us to overcome is stubbornness and foolishness.

Truly I am your servant, Lord;

I serve you just as my mother did;

you have freed me from my chains. —Psalm 116:16

Lord, may I listen.

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.


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