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On Faith: Made to be loved by God

"O God, You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they find rest in You."

— St. Augustine

This above quote comes from one of the great masters of theology, a bishop named St. Augustine. St. Augustine died in the year 430, and Catholics celebrate his feast day on Aug. 28. He has a rather famous life story because of the dramatic conversion that he underwent.

Early in his adulthood he was a pagan, unbaptized, and living a life of sin and caught up in the cares of the world. However, through his study of philosophy, and eventually the Bible, he came to realize the truth of God's existence, love and will. He was baptized and became a prolific writer, his most famous work being his "Confessions," which is considered a classic of Christian writing, and in which he details his conversion experience and God's movement and work in his life.

This above quote is from his "Confessions" and is an example of how a few words can sometimes capture the whole picture. St. Augustine learned the hard way by trying to fill the deepest longings and desires of his heart with things other than a relationship with God, including sinful relationships, partying and worldly ambitions and honors. But he soon realized that none of these things really filled the need for peace and contentment in his soul. It was only God dwelling within him that could satisfy that spiritual longing.

The same is true for us. We can often make the mistake in our lives of trying to find lasting peace, joy, happiness and purpose in things, places and persons other than God. This is always misguided, and never leads to the lasting peace and happiness that we deeply need, because only a personal and intimate relationship with God in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit can truly fill that void in our hearts. It can be a tough lesson to learn, and for some people, it takes virtually their entire life to learn it. Which is why the above quote is so powerful. Our hearts, our souls, our identity will be restless, incomplete, unfulfilled until they rest in God.

In other words, until we seek to make God first in our lives and understand him to be our source of infinite love, life and happiness, we will always feel like something deeply important is missing in our lives.

Why? Because as St. Augustine so bluntly pointed out, God has made us for himself. God created each one of us out of love; he has created us for a specific reason, and has a specific purpose or plan for our life. We do not exist due to chance, and our life is no accident — God has specifically and uniquely called each one of us, through the cooperation of our parents, into existence. God is the designer of our being, and because he made us in order to share his love with us, trying to find personal fulfillment, self-identity or true happiness in life in anyone or anything else other than God will not work — it's simply not how we were made. We were made to be loved by God and to love him in return. God desperately desires that we find our rest in him through a loving relationship with him. Let's not keep him waiting. God bless you.

On Faith is a weekly column in the News-Chronicle written by area religious leaders.