I have been reading The Case for Faith lately. In it, Lee Strobel, a journalist who used to be an atheist explores questions of faith relating to creation v evolution, suffering, and more. One of the last areas in which he delves involves doubts. Lynn Anderson, the man he interviews in the chapter “I Can’t Doubt and Be A Christian,” points out a common difficulty with time that influences people’s doubt when prompted to share influences on people’s doubt to which they may not usually be aware. He says,
’Seasons of life can make a big difference,’ he replied. ‘Sometimes people are great believers while in college, but when they’re young parents with their second baby and they’re working sixty or eighty hours a week and their wife’s sick all the time and the boss is on their back—they simply don’t have time to reflect. And I don’t think faith can develop without some contemplative time. If they don’t make room for that, their faith is not going to grow and doubts will creep in.’
It seems like this fits many season’s in people’s lives, including my own.
My stage in life does not include my own family yet, but I am young. My career is just beginning. I am deciding where I would like to live and what I would like to be doing. Yet I find it hard to find time to reflect or contemplate.
Routine has a high priority in my life. My specific routine has been tweaked to near perfection over the years. Exercise has profound importance for all the health benefits, and I made sure I woke up at 6am during my time at college so I could work out first thing. Then I finished preparing for the day, including having a devotional time before I got started on my other tasks like homework and cleaning. Throughout those years and now, the specific routine has been tweaked to fit my schedule, but the priorities have stayed the same. I know I want to take care of all areas of my health, especially spiritual. That includes having time to reflect on my faith as well as life in general.
A regular prayer time helps this a lot. As I mentioned before, I set aside time every day in college. This keeps my focus on God. Faith implies a perspective on the world shaped by God; regularly spending time with Him keeps my perspective closer to His. I also shared that I rely heavily on my routine to get all my needed and wanted daily tasks accomplished. It has been harder for me the last couple years because of my work schedule. I have enjoyed working two jobs and am relieved to work one now, but I still don’t have a regular work week or schedule. This probably shakes me more than it should. I continually adapt it to each day. In theory I have the same amount of time. Yet I haven’t found my good contemplative times. In college, I would spend a couple hours before each semester reflecting on my goals for the coming semester. First I would go through the more surface level items like the organizations in which I had a role and decided in which ones I would continue to play a part and which I would leave. Then I would make a second list of more broad ideas involving important concepts to me. This involved how I reflected God to other people, how I invested in my relationships, how I shaped my perspective, how I used my gifts. That always reminded me of the bigger picture of God’s purpose for my life during that period. It helped me maintain peace and progress my studies during that time so I could prepare for the next stage.
Here I am now in another busy season. Again, I don’t quite have all the same details as the example mentioned in The Case for Faith. Yet experiencing this uncertainty at all levels has made me organize my life in a way different than my preferred method. I just have to keep going back to what’s important to keep progressing. I want to progress my career and have to make some decisions regarding that because I want to keep developing. The same applies to my faith. Without that contemplation, neither will progress. As Anderson points out, if we don’t make room for it, it won’t happen.