Rest for Restless Hearts: A Brief Meditation

Presently, I’m on my vacation. During this time, I’ve been re-reading Augustine’s Confessions and reflecting on what it means to truly rest in the Lord. Often, when we think of “rest” we unconsciously substitute “idleness” in its place. Idleness, though, is certainly not the same; as Benedict points out in his Rule, “Idleness is the enemy of the soul.” (Benedict of Nursia, The Rule of St. Benedict, XLVIII.). “Rest” doesn’t mean the cessation of activity; “rest”, unlike idleness, is an active trusting in and following after the One Who is our Rest – the Lord Jesus Christ. True rest is found in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 17:8), knowing that whatever comes you are His and He is yours. (Song of Solomon 6:3). If, in the midst of the wearying miseries and let-downs of this world I am to find abiding rest, it will be found only in Jesus Christ, in taking His yoke upon myself, being His true disciple, learning from Him. His is an abiding rest, and it is the rest in which I must abide, or else I will continue to be restless and wandering about from one failing happiness to another. Remember as you journey on the Way: “Christ alone is my rest.” The following are a few pieces upon which to meditate, concluded by a prayer.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

“You stir us up to take delight in your praise; for you have made us for yourself, and our heart is restless till it finds its rest in you.” Augustine, Confessions, I.I.I.

The Pulley by George Herbert

When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by,
“Let us,” said he, “pour on him all we can.
Let the world’s riches, which dispersèd lie,
Contract into a span.”

So strength first made a way;
Then beauty flowed, then wisdom, honour, pleasure.
When almost all was out, God made a stay,
Perceiving that, alone of all his treasure,
Rest in the bottom lay.

“For if I should,” said he,
“Bestow this jewel also on my creature,
He would adore my gifts instead of me,
And rest in Nature, not the God of Nature;
So both should losers be.

“Yet let him keep the rest,
But keep them with repining restlessness;
Let him be rich and weary, that at least,
If goodness lead him not, yet weariness
May toss him to my breast.”

Prayer: God of rest, grant that we who are weary and heavy laden and who so often seek our rest in Your gifts rather than in their Giver, be forgiven for our sins, be tossed upon Your breast, take upon ourselves the yoke of Christ by the power of Your Holy Spirit to be His true disciples, and rest in Your steadfast love in Christ all the days of our lives and throughout eternity, in the name of Your beloved Son Jesus, Who abides with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever and ever. Amen.

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