Come on, my soul.
Reading St. Augustine’s Confessions can be a bit daunting. It can also be a bit revolutionizing. It hasn’t been until the last few years that I’ve developed a taste for the writings of the early church fathers, and even now, I can still find some of their works too hefty to wade deeply through. However, Confessions and I became friends instantaneously. Augustine is raw, exposed, genuine. He expresses the depths of the human heart with a poetic beauty wrapped around a steel core of truth that is rare, even today.
But what I count most dear about Augustine is his ability to recognize within himself the very deterrents which hold him back from the One who loves him most. Rather than excuse, explain or philosophize, he concedes to the fact that his unregenerate man operates in raw rebellion to the Creator. And he is desperate for transformation.
“Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new; late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet, if they had not been in you, they would not have been at all. You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.”
It was after chewing on this passage for a time that I began to be stirred by the Holy Spirit with a phrase that rang in my heart week upon week. When I would gather on Sunday with the corporate Body in worship, it would resound, filling all my thoughts. As I came quiet before the Lord in the stillness of early morning, it would resonate deep in my spirit.
Come on, my soul.
Augustine’s ability to correctly identify the source of his soul’s sickness leads him then to cast himself in utter dependence upon the One who passionately pursues him. And in the identification, the sagacious church patriarch chooses to operate in a discipline which we in post-modern Western culture rarely embrace.
He speaks to his soul.
Almost two thousand years earlier, the poet king David, kindred in spirit to Augustine, commands his soul to fix its gaze upon the utter loveliness, the utter magnificence of the One who calls him into uninhibited intimacy. And he commands his soul to worship.
“Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)”
Both David and Augustine uncover the key to face-to-face intimacy. They glean the secret of the mighty in spirit, apprehending the ageless truth which our modern souls so desperately crave. In the midst of trials and difficulties, and even more potent, in the midst of fleshly desires which rage contrary to the Spirit, they instruct their souls to move past the deterrents and distractions. And they call their hearts to utter adoration of the King.
Because everything we are, everything we accomplish is to be an act of laid-down love.
And when we speak to our souls, we break the chains of inhibition that enslave us to timidity and self-focus. And when we extol the King in spite of heartbreak, in spite of pain, in spite of disappointment, we take back territory which was lost due to doubt. And when we fix our eyes on His loveliness, something intrinsic shifts within our core. Suddenly, light breaks and joy tumbles forth, transforming.
A few months back, as I was sweeping the living room wood for the umpteenth time that week, a simple song came through Pandora which stopped me cold. It was the very melody my heart had been humming, and it caught me in its wash.
Come on my soul
Come on my soul
Let down the walls
And sing my soul
Come on, come on, come on, come on
It’s time to look up
It is the cry of those who have uncovered the treasure of choosing to press on, to press into His presence. And my heart responds.
Your passion runs deep. It overwhelms and I cannot escape. It comforts and I lie down, replete.
Can I discover your blazing glory to be enough, embracing the furnace of its mighty consumption, finding myself richly satisfied? My soul stretches for beauty, but stumbles into mundane sordidness once and again.
Today, let me soar free and wild and cling to your loveliness so tightly that nothing can penetrate this union of love.
Very deep, very insightful, and very timely, Tiffany!
Thank you, Jason!
Kaleb was required to read St. Augustine’s confession last semester as part of his omnibus class. Very daunting indeed.
Wow… way to go, Kaleb! My kids have always had a love/hate relationship with Omnibus, but it’s so rich!