St Augustine is one of my all-time heroes. Not just because he wrote more about the Christian faith than anyone else in history (Thomas Aquinas and Martin Luther come in 2nd and 3rd). Not just because he helped lay down the foundation for Western civilization. Not just because he had one awesome conversion story. I love him and his words because he was a man on a life-long journey for more of the Lord. His heart was truly ‘restless until it found its rest in Thee’.
Often people today have the idea that the journey counts more than the destination. While its true that the search is of value, it loses its wonder when there is nothing being searched for. This is true even when the destination seems to be, at least in this world, always beyond us – like our search for God.
Harold J. Gardiner is a Jesuit scholar whom I know nothing about except that he wrote the Introduction to my old copy of Augustine’s Confessions. What he has to say about Augustine’s search for God is profound:
A fallacy is afoot today that the search is more important than the goal. If only a man has “integrity” enough to keep searching, to question his environment, his convictions, his thought patterns, it is said, he is a man of “good will” or a searcher for the truth. Much is true, of course, in this attitude. One must search, question, reject, synthesize. But all this is vanity of vanities unless one is utterly convinced that there is a goal to be reached, a truth to be found, a haven to welcome the weary, if intrepid, sailor. Augustine does not, as no rational being should, glorify the search above the goal, the mastery of the storm above the serenity of the port. He attained because he knew that something was not only attainable, but winning, attractive, lovable, fulfilling. That something was God, Whom, if he knew “too late”, he knew and loved so well that he more than made up for the lateness.