St. Augustine by Botticelli
All of us carry regrets from the past. Those things that we should or should not have done. They creep into our conscience time and again, nagging us throughout the years. Enter regret.
Have you ever found yourself in the same messy situation, two or three or more times? The script is the same but the characters are different. Like a reoccurring nightmare that I continue to handle as poorly as I have done so many nights before. Recounting the play-by-play in a cold sweat, wondering why I didn’t run, or couldn’t make myself move to save somebody. Knowing that the dream will continue to haunt me until I get it right.
God is constantly offering us opportunities to perfect our choices throughout our life’s journey. In finally “getting it right,” the opportunities bring us closer to Him and the fulfillment of His plan for us. He calls us again and again, waiting patiently for us to respond to His call.
And if you’re like me, then just as often as He calls you, you run from His call. What is the primary fear? That the mission to “be good, and faithful, and holy” will be burdensome and damper our already dark lives (without Him)?
There exists within us a natural and supernatural desire to follow God, but we rationalize it away. We suddenly become prudent, in waiting to embrace faith and its heavy practices. Giving ourselves time, like uncle Screwtape, to have had a chance to do it our own way first. The great saint Augustine is famous for saying “God give me chastity, but not yet.” We laugh at this, mostly because it is so true. But it is also comforting to know that this headstrong man, who resisted and ran from God, like us, was pursued and favored by God more fervently.
“>His love has no escape other than hell.
Spoiler alert; God’s love won. Augustine eventually gave his entire life over to God, and ultimately the “lost cause” became a saint!
Yet, St. Augustine had many regrets looking back on his life. Lust was certainly a sin that he found himself struggling to be free of. He knew that God wanted to relieve him of it, but it was an addictive comfort that he was not sure how to live without.
This is all to familiar in the human condition. How often do I cling to “my” sin – to the point of becoming possessive of it? So attached to it that I love a ridiculous fear of being without it – that my life will lack something that I need.
Rooted in a lie, that should I surrender to the will of God, I will be forced to live a life of solitude, perpetual prayer, and therefore lead a miserable existence. Sin clouds our eyes from seeing truth. From knowledge that life is most fulfilling when we truly embrace it “as it was made to be lived.” This is, by the One who authored and gave us life.
How foreign a simple concept, written on the hearts of men. It is not comprehensible beyond Faith.
Periodically, reflecting on missed “God” opportunities in my past, I wonder how differently certain instances would have played out, if only I had not run from God.These are often fleeting thoughts I quickly write off, as life lessons that have made me who I am. Yes, but not entirely sufficient! Sure, all of my life experiences have influenced me, but I could say the same thing if I had gone to jail or worse. Where do the lessons end? Thankfully, not there for me, at least not yet!
These disobedient moments that have made me “who I am now” have also made it harder for me to be who “I am meant to be.”
Par exemple, my husband and I waited many years to meet each other. I prayed and prayed to meet my future spouse, as the years passed empty. When I finally did meet him, and we shared stories of our past wrestling matches with God, it was clear that we had run from the very thing we both desired…love (and each other.) Had we both submitted to God, perhaps empty years of waiting would have been filled with the grace we now enjoy through family life. One day we will know. It will all be clear. For now…we repent!
God offers us opportunities. If we reject them, he does not snatch them back and withhold them from us in anger. Rather, he waits and offers them again and again. In Divine mercy, he continues to offer ways to straighten our crooked paths, until our dying breath.
God does not give up on us.
So, what is our consequence for years of running? Regret. When we finally know the goodness of living in the light, we are able to look back in clarity at the wasted years. Time only moves forward here on earth, and time is precious. Take it from one who knew; St. Augustine. One who spent so much of his life trying to disprove God, that when he finally accepted the truth, he was saddened by his wasted youth.
This beautiful prayer was written by St. Augustine as a lament to God when he fully came to the realization of God’s goodness that he had rejected for so long.
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 have not 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.
The prayer has been put to music many times in many various forms, as music resonates deeply in our soul and breathes emotion to words. Never have I heard a more beautiful and captivating version than this one by Scarlet Biberstein Gross:
He is calling, He is shouting, let Him break through your deafness!
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