Thanks for rest

John A. Braun

Augustine of Hippo died in A.D. 430—too long ago for most of us to care. Many years ago I read his Confessions with college students, some who were headed off to the seminary. Several passages from his work still linger in my memory. Among them is a sentence perhaps familiar to many who may never have read the full text.

Augustine’s paragraph begins, “Great are you, O Lord, and exceedingly worthy of praise; your power is immense, and your wisdom beyond reckoning.” It concludes with his famous sentence, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” As believers, we long to praise God because we have found our rest in him.

I am not ashamed to stand with Augustine 1,600 years later and offer my own thanks and praise to God. He also has led me to his rest. I am but one believer among the believers God has called by his grace. The ages are filled with them. Luther found special value in Augustine and also praised God for his grace. I’m not an Augustine or a Luther, but I know the same grace of God in Jesus.

I invite you to join me in praise and thanks to God, who has brought us all to his deep and satisfying rest. Consider the contrast. Those who run away from God looking for solace find none. They want their own way contrary to God’s grace, and that often means contrary to God’s principles. Anguish, turmoil, worry, dread, frustration, endless struggle, chasing after what never satisfies—all are captured in the word restless.

But we are at rest. By the grace of God we heard the invitation of Jesus to come, lay aside our heavy burdens, and receive the rest he gives. That grace in Jesus has shaped and molded us in ways we often don’t always think about. Who we are is written in the language of God’s grace and the red ink of Christ’s blood.

We are different. The full, thorough forgiveness of Jesus gives us peace the world does not understand. As a matter of fact, the world, in seeking its own version of peace, remains a troubling and boiling pot of unrest. We praise God, who gives us peace that transcends the world’s perceptions and moves us to love and help others. Grace has made us loved children of God and salt in our families, communities, and nation. Grace makes us different.

Augustine was no dreamy-eyed, ivory tower Christian. He experienced his own unrest without God. He knew sin and the bondage of the human heart to what is contrary to God’s will. His praise flowed from the changes God’s grace had made in him. Luther discovered the same grace of God, and it changed him as well. They both exalted in their praise of his grace.

Take your place with them and with me. We know and confess that we are “altogether sinful from birth,” but with hungry and eager hearts we long for the reassurance of God’s grace and the rest it gives. Grace has changed us too. Praise God that he has given us such rest. It allows us to close our eyes in death and consider it only a sleep. He will awaken us in glory.

Knowing his wonderful rest, we can count the many other blessings God has given us: family, friends, food, and all the things for which we are thankful. But, most important, we thank and praise God for his grace. He has made us his children and given us the confidence to trust he will care for us no matter what happens.

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Author: John A. Braun
Volume 102, Number 11
Issue: November 2015

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