Over lunch with an acquaintance last week he told me how he had lost faith and that if he attended church, it was more to provide companionship to his single father than because of a deep faith.
It is a struggle that I think I understand, at least in part. Perhaps as an outcome of a melancholy personality coupled with an inclination to sometimes think too deeply - matters of faith that once seemed so straightforward to me when younger, are no longer.
And so I admitted that I too wrestle with God, and struggle with faith. That maybe, if I were not married and / or did not have kids, I might not go to church so often.
But for now, I am thankful for where I am in life, and acknowledge that family is one way in which God has been gracious to me. A sense of obligation towards the spiritual upbringing of my family, and reminders of God’s love as I see in and through their lives, keep the embers of faith from dying.
This is not to say that if I did not have a family, I would renounce the faith. Or that those without family do not experience grace. With what little faith I have, I would say that God and grace cannot be boxed into a formula; God’s grace is manifested in varied and multiple forms. Family, friends, creation, circumstances - a seemingly random act of kindness or even a disappointment - God can and does use all of these to reach out to us in love.
"Was reflecting on our lunch conversation last week", I message my friend. "(Perhaps or maybe I should say I’m certain that) your father is a demonstration of God’s grace to you. Grace in how much your father loves you, and grace in that your love for your father has kept you from being entirely unplugged from God. The journey is not over yet - let’s see where God takes you from here."
"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief." (Mark 9 : 24)