A personal reformation

St. Augustine

“I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me” (Psalm 131:2). A personal reformation of the soul is the calming and quieting of one’s self before the Lord. We are an anxious people, ready at any moment to answer the call of this thing or that thing; but, the Lord is eternal, not waiting or anticipating the next thing, but dwelling in the eternal eighth day of rest. He beckons and calls us to himself. Who can resist him?

The psalmist presents himself as a child weaned from his mother’s breast, yet he is still a child. But now he waits, calm and quieted, knowing that the Lord sustains him. He seeks his next meal from the Lord, for he is very hungry and in need.

“Hear me, O God! How wicked are the sins of men! Men say this and you pity them, because you made man, but you did not make sin in him” (Confessions, Bk. 1, chpt. 7). God made man to serve him, but from the onset of life there is sin and turmoil. A man is not at rest, but he yearns for the next thing (that is, his sin). How pitiable is such a man! But praise be to God! He delivers us from sin and death! Jesus Christ is our righteousness, who calls us “to taste and see.” Called in Christ, we are beckoned by the Spirit and drawn by His power: a man cannot resist the Lord. With clay of humble origin, God remakes man, cast again in His image. “No one but you can do these things, because you are the one and only mould in which all things are cast and the perfect form which shapes all things, and everything takes its place according to your law” (ibid.).

“For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, ‘Be gone!’” (Isaiah 30:19-22).

God’s word is a command; it cannot be resisted. God’s word is ever before a man, stirring new feelings and affections. The man who does not yield struggles against the One who cannot be overcome. Such a man, who resists God, can never find rest, he is always troubled. This man does not know that he is already defeated. And after he has eaten “the bread of adversity” and after he has drunken “the water of affliction,” God reveals himself. All along that man will know that he has been called from eternal ages, and that a state of grace lies before him. “This is the way, walk in it…”, says the Lord. A new man will emerge who says of his sin, “Be gone!”

The apostle Paul wrote Timothy: “If anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, read for every good work” (2 Timothy 2:21).

In all the ages of the church, there is a call to reformation, a call to restoration, a call to salvation. It comes from the Lord. He is calling all men and all women — all young, all old — to “honorable use.” We, each of us, are called to calmness and quietness, thus passing from birth, to life, to death, and life again in Christ. Such is a personal reformation of the soul.

© 2017, Mark Adams. All rights reserved.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *