He held one of the most prestigious and sought after professorships in Italy. When he spoke, he was overwhelmingly persuasive. Few people would have considered themselves Augustine’s equal.
Although he had a Christian mother and was personally intrigued by the Christian faith, he lived a life that was distant from God. He was engaged to be married, yet he had a mistress and an illegitimate child. He found it hard to resist his natural desires.
Then he encountered a Christian by the name of Ambrose, a young pastor in Milan whose preaching Augustine was eager to hear. Soon Augustine became interested in more than Ambrose’ skill as a communicator, and more interested in what he was saying. Augustine had tried reading the Scriptures as a teenager, but he was not impressed. At the time, he had been in love with beautiful language, and to him the language of the Bible seemed dull and plain. But years had passed since then, and under the influence of Ambrose, the simplicity of the Bible began to seem profound to him.
On one evening, Augustine sat in his garden. Silent. He was restless and confused about his life. Then under a fig tree he heard a voice. It chanted over and over again, “Take up and read. Take up and read. Take up and read.”
“Read what” Augustine shouted into the sky. Then he glanced around him, and there lying nearby, where the letters of the Apostle Paul from the New Testament. He read Romans 13 and it changed him. He decided to follow Jesus, and for the next forty-four years of his life, Augustine continued to ‘take up and read’, becoming one of the most influential Christian thinkers and writers in history.
It all started in a garden, where he decided to take up and read.
Your invitation to read may not be as dramatic. It may simply be in a blog. But take up and read, and perhaps you will discover what Augustine discovered, that the Bible, the Scriptures, are more than just a good book.