This post is by Syler Thomas.
One March afternoon, when I was in the process of figuring out what to write about in my new book Game Plan: Practical Wisdom for the College Experience (co-written by Nic Gibson), I got a call from a former student of mine, a freshman. She was in the middle of a Spring Break trip where the whole point was to share her faith with strangers on the beach in Florida. Her call was somewhat frantic: “I don’t know if I really believe this Christianity stuff, and I’m supposed to be telling people about Jesus. What do I do?” It was then that I knew we needed a chapter on doubt.
I write in chapter 4 (you can read a longer excerpt of the chapter here.)
that “it is not a question of if, but when doubts will come.”
The important part is how we respond. I compare a college student’s faith in the midst of doubting to the three little pigs’ houses.
“The first house you build is made out of straw. It’s a functioning house, but all it takes is a little huffin’ and puffin’ and it comes down. This is the point where many young Christians walk away. They say: Look, if this God thing was real, my house would still be standing. The other alternative is to say: you know, the house of faith that I was building was adequate for a time, but it’s not strong enough anymore. I need to build a stronger house, with a firmer foundation and better materials. And so you build again, this time out of sticks. It’s a better house, but it might take four or five puffs to bring it down.
You are once again at a pivotal time, and you can either leave the house destroyed or build another one, this time out of bricks. You learn from your mistakes, and the newer understanding of God that you find each time your previous house gets blown to the ground brings the wisdom to build a better house the next time.”
We can talk about different ways that doubt can seep in:
through poor decisions,
as a result of experiencing suffering,
and through intellectual challenges.
What do you think of the three pigs analogy? Have you experienced this? What doubts did you face in college? How did you (or choose not to) rebuild your house of faith?