“Our hearts are restless till they find rest in you.”
If you’re a Christian, or someone who has read Christian books, or even just spiritual books perhaps, you’ve probably heard this phrase. It is from Confessions, the autobiography of Augustine, the bishop of Hippo in North Africa in the 400s. Augustine was the most influential Christian theologian between the Bible and Thomas Aquinas. He wrote at the very end of the Western Roman Empire and his writings on everything from original sin to the Trinity is still read today by theologians and church leaders.
But its Confessions that is his most famous, and most approachable for normal people, book. He tells the story of his life – a wild youth, wanderings through university, encountering new ideas and joining religious groups, and ultimately being baptized as a Christian. Written as a prayer to God, this book essentially invented the idea of an autobiography. Besides that, his journey still resonates with us today. I work daily with college students who are seeking after truth and fulfillment in life. This is not a new search, Augustine undertook it 1500 years ago. His conclusion is that famous phrase: “our hearts are restless till they find rest in you.”
That said, the first time I read this book I had a bit of trouble. Its not the easiest read in the world, but it is worth the effort. And once you get through this one, why not tackle City of God, Augustine’s mammoth work written in light of the sack of Rome in 410 AD!