I recently wrote that Augustine, though raised by his Christian mother to love Jesus, was not a Christian for a part of his life – he was lost in non-Christian spiritualisms, intellectual pride, and lust.
One very important person I left out of the post last week that was instrumental in Augustine’s conversion was his mom, Monica.
Like many guys, Augustine didn’t think much of his mother’s beliefs while he was young. He thought his intellect was superior to her life experiences – again, not much has changed in the last 1,600 years.
Slowly, her fervent, tear-soaked prayers and the gracious example she was setting before Augustine met with the people God were placing into Augustine’s life at the right time and Augustine became a Christian.
Later, he wrote extensively on how her prayer and example changed him. Monica probably had no idea that Augustine was even watching, but he was. Augustine wrote this about his mom:
And You sent Your hand from above, and drew my soul out of that profound darkness, my mother, Your faithful one, weeping to You for me, more than mothers weep the bodily death of their children. For she, by faith and the Spirit which she received from You, saw the death that I was in, and You heard her, O Lord; You heard her, and looked favorably on her tears as they streamed down, watering the ground under her eyes in every place she prayed, yes, You heard her. (Confessions of Augustine, Book Three).
So, how did Monica do this? How did she influence her son to repent from his sin and lead him to Christ?
- She prayed consistently. Monica made a habit of tearful prayer on her son’s behalf – that God would save him, send people into his life, and that her example would provide a basis for a faithful lifestyle. She believed Jesus’ teaching tha t we should always pray and never give up.
- She lived a life of obedience. Monica lived the life she claimed to live. She wasn’t two-faced or hypocritical. She was real and obedient. Augustine wrote that her character, refusal to gossip, resolve to be a careful listener and a peacemaker, were huge for him.
- She modeled a life of repentance. Monica was real. She had a past. Apparently in her youth, she struggled heavily with alcoholism. Augustine was deeply influenced with her recovery from this sin through faith in Christ. Monica didn’t present herself as a perfect women, but rather as a woman who was learning to trust Jesus more and more with her life.
Through these three things, her faith eventually helped lead her son to Christ. Augustine wrote that her influence also helped lead her unbelieving, hot-tempered, and unfaithful husband to Christ later in life.
Like Jesus said, “always pray and never give up.”
It may look hopeless for you. It looked hopeless for Monica. Don’t give up. God heard her. God hears you.
Copyright © 2019 by Stephen Castleberry @ stephencastleberry.wordpress.com. Used with permission.
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