Like a lot of people I haven’t always been a Christian. There certainly was no religious ”silver-spoon” in my upbringing. To my own chagrin, as a teenager I remember telling a teacher that his bible study on James had pushed me further away from God.
As a teenager I experienced difficulty reconciling the actions of Christians with the Bible. I was taught but not always shown. This disconnect left me a wanderer. Never an ardent atheist. I cannot fully explain this, other than to suggest that deep down I witnessed my sighs being turned into prayers. The presence of grace in ‘revolt against the darkness‘ (Barth paraphrased, CD Fragments IV:4).
Any alignment on my part is and can only be the result of an act of alignment initiated first by God. Who, in my case, stepped in to become a father where the one assigned to me, walked away.
It’s always a work in progress, but through reflecting on those experiences I can see clearer how, in Jesus Christ, God reaches to grasp us, even when we are struggling to grasp Him.
I believe this is at the heart of what Augustine meant when he wrote:
‘Eternal Truth, true love, beloved Eternity.All this, my God, you are.
It is you that I sigh by night and day. When first I knew you, you raised me up so that I could see that there was something to be seen, but also that I was not yet able to see it.
I gazed on you with eyes to weak to resist the dazzle of your splendour. Your light shone upon me in its brilliance, and I thrilled with love and dread alike.I realized that I was far away from you. It was as though I were in a land where all is different from your own.
And far off I heard your voice saying ‘I am the God who IS.’ I heard your voice, as we hear voices that speak to our hearts, and at once I had no cause to doubt. I might more easily have doubted that I was alive than that Truth had being.’
(Augustine, Confessions, VII:10 Penguin Classics 1961:147)
May we be hearers, and doers of the word, not just speakers of it.
For just as the mind sees, the heart hears.