Cliff Jumping and Water Walking

July 13, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

Heart in my mouth, I look at the hills covered with shaggy pine trees then down at the swimmers who’d already jumped into water below the cliff. I’d just had a conversation with my cousin. “Without muscles we’d die, even our heart is a muscle,” he said. Instead of muscle, my heart feels like a mini roller coaster at a tacky carnival. I suck air through my clenched teeth and sentimentally gaze at the landscape before me, and then force my eyes downward. Just as I’m coercing my heart to vacate my throat and return to its rightful place in the circulatory system, I think of faith. Could I have enough faith to hear the Lord and jump because I know it’s a cliff I must overcome? My commanding muscle, the brain, finally takes control and forces my legs into action. Fear leaves the pit of my stomach as my feet leave the rocky ledge.

For a brief moment, I feel like I’m never going to land. The air tugs at my hair and leaves my body feeling oddly suspended. Then, in an instant, I am embraced by the cool water and let my body float in its depths. Excitement shivers through me as I relive the feeling of falling. Then I swim towards the glassy surface and breathe in the fresh smell of the woods surrounding.

Before I jumped, my cousin had been trying to decide whether to jump. Something he said made me smile with its conciseness. “There are just too many worries.” There were worries when I stood on the cliff, and there are worries now, as I sit and write. But there don’t have to be.

I know this is a time of the Lord growing my faith. I believe in Him with my entire heart, but I’m still trying to learn to place my whole life in His hands. Like Peter, he knew Jesus was waiting for him as he walked on the water, but Peter was too afraid of the howling winds he had to cross through to get to Jesus. I am afraid of the things that block my path to Him, and I don’t want that fear to cause me to sink. I’m so thankful the Lord doesn’t give up on me in my weakness, but rather teaches me how to overcome these stormy trials.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” John 14:27 (KJV).

I can picture it in my mind, Jesus speaking those words, holding out His arms, and waiting for me across the expanse of raging waters. That’s where I’m at, walking on water towards my Lord. All that’s left to do is accept the peace He brings and dwell under the shadow of His wings.

Next Breath

May 14, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

I listened on the phone as my dad’s voice gave away his excitement. “Makenzie, there is a baby raccoon down here. I need you to come get him.” Bounding down the stairs, I shoot out the driveway, kennel in hand, and hurry down the road to where my dad waited for me. I scanned my surroundings until my eyes landed on a baby raccoon pacing in my dad’s boat. As I walked home with the raccoon in a kennel, quietness enveloped me. And in the quiet, I prayed God would keep this baby alive.

The days passed slowly as I cared for Jasper the raccoon. Something had happened to his mom and he had been left alone. I did everything from giving him a bath to feeding him with a baby’s bottle. Cradling Jasper in a blanket as he held on tightly to the bottle with his perfect little paws, I resolved to restore his health. Only one problem stormed away my resolution. I didn’t control the times.

Comprehending why things happen when they do has been challenging for me. Why is God okay with people dying if He is good? If He really cared wouldn’t, He stop this from happening? Questions of this nature tend to scatter throughout my thoughts and words. Questions, when God is saying, “My child, why do you doubt Me?”

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2 KJV).

I cannot pretend to know all the answers, but God in heaven does. He alone controls the times, and that indeed brings me comfort because I know He has my best in mind. Rather than questioning the Lord, I should be questioning my own trust.

“My times are in Thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me” (Psalm 31:15 KJV).

Not many attributes are more fulfilling than trust. Love always trusts and so, in order to love the Lord, I must first trust Him. People of old were commended for their brimming faith, as it says in Hebrews 11. Looking at past relationships between God and man, one can’t help but see the promise lying just underneath the surface. Bubbling and bursting forth, radiating out of men’s faces in smiles, in eyes, in actions. Daniel, Esther, Noah, Mary, all from different backgrounds but sharing common ground, they trusted in the Lord with all their heart.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5 KJV).

Jasper filled his lungs with the gift of God’s grace for the last time. In the same way, each breath I take is a gift and all I can do is trust God to give me the next.

Comforted by Snowflakes

April 26, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

Snowflakes fall and I wonder if there is a pattern only God can see. Up in heaven, does He scatter them just so? Or does He toss them into the wind and let them spiral any way the invisible pull takes them?

I just finished reading the book of Job. One of my favorite parts is when God demonstrates His power by asking Job a series of questions.

“He says to the snow, ‘Fall on the earth’. Have you entered the storehouses of the snow? Stop and consider God’s wonders. Do you know how the clouds hang poised? Where were you when I laid the earths foundations?” (Job 37: 6, 14, 16 and 38:4, 22).

And just as I am humbled daily by God’s wonders, Job was humbled as well. The thought that God measures out the waters and tells the winds where to blow, well, it is humbling. What a powerful God we serve.

Job asked God many questions about his struggles. “Why is this happening to me? I have honored you in all my ways. Where are you Lord?”

Job did not get a response from God for quite some time. He felt utterly alone and broken. No earthly possessions were left for him, and his spiritual life took a beating too. Tattered rags and dirt clung to him as he wept for the loss of loved ones, for the long days spent apart from God. Yet in all that time, Job never tossed his faith to the wind. His hands might have torn at his clothes in mourning, but his heart never tore God from His rightful place there.

After many long nights spent without sleep, Job heard from God. Happiness was a key component to that meeting I’m sure. God told Job of the many wonders He had made, of how He alone controls the seasons and the great beasts of the earth. God has it under control. Waves roll, thunder ignites, but God is ultimately in control.

Up on His throne, God can see the big picture. No puzzle piece looks smooth and whole on its own. But God uses every one of those pieces in our lives, making for a pretty stunning picture in the end. God has our jigsaw puzzle lives figured out. Little by little, He is putting that puzzle together, you and I just get to marvel at how it comes out.

As the snowflakes melt on the tip of my nose, I look up to the sky. If God has storehouses for the snowflakes, and plans for these frozen water droplets whom last all but two seconds, surely He has a plan for you and I.

Healed

March 25, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

In my previous article, I wrote about how God is the greatest scientist. He created science in the beginning and still follows the laws of science today. God can also use science in miraculous ways. Two years ago, I was able to experience one way God can use science.

There I was, smile on my face, but despairing inwardly. The eyes that crinkled at the sides along with my cover-up smile were really shedding tears of confusion and hurt when I was alone. The laugh that poured from me was robotic and well-rehearsed, nothing about it bubbly or real. From the outside, it probably looked like I had it all together. Inside, I sure didn’t.

I sat alongside my family as we listened to a man speaking of miracles God had done through him to people who were broken. Stories of men regaining sight, people who knew nothing except darkness but finally found the light and thrived, of limbs being healed, and many other forms of restoration. In the pew, I was wishing my depression had a reason for being there. I had no limbs that needed restoring, I was just weary. It bothered me that I wasn’t stronger.

As the man ended his sermon, he asked all who needed healing to come forward. I felt an urging to go. Telling myself I should be strong and move on, I sat stubbornly. I felt a nudge again. And as fewer people began to file past me down the aisle, I stood and went forward. I remember thinking, this really isn’t a big enough deal to have people pray over you for. You’re depressed, don’t waste their time just because you are being weak.

I reached the man who spoke of healing. He rested his hand on my head and gently pressed me to the ground where I began to sob. I shook so violently as I cried that to this day I don’t know most of what he and the others huddled around prayed for me. I just hugged my knees with one hand and clutched my little necklace that says “faith” with the other as I cried long and hard. “Give me faith Lord, give me faith in You.” I prayed in between sobs.

People exited the building and whoa! That sunset and I were neck and neck for who was brightest. I felt alive again, like God had touched me and at His presence oppression must flee for fear. I couldn’t hold back the smile on my face that was aimed right for the heavens where I imagined my Lord smiling right back. I climbed into the car and couldn’t hold it all in anymore.

“It was the strangest thing, when they were praying for me I felt this heat come over me,” I said.

“When you feel a warmth like that it is usually a sign of healing from God,” Mom replied.

Recently in Chemistry class, we learned that heat is actually raw energy. As I was pondering science and talking with God, it hit me. Heat is a sign of healing from God. And heat is energy. So God literally gives you the energy to overcome the wounds sin has inflicted. Whether physically, mentally, or spiritually, we are all handicapped by the hold sin has on our world.

God gave me energy. Exactly what I needed to banish the oppression that had taken hold of my life. I look back and smile at that moment of pure joy, the moment when God filled me with His insurmountable power and energy. Though I didn’t see Him that night, I felt Him.

“Though you have not seen Him, you love Him; and even though you do not see Him now, you have believed in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (1 Peter 1:8 NIV).

Eight Electrons

February 16, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Makenzie Allen –

You know what I love about God? He was, is, and forever will be the greatest scientist to ever live. Not in the sense that He studies and hypothesizes about things He cannot understand. God is a scientist because He created everything using the laws of science, which He engineered. He is the greatest because He designed science itself. You know Adam? Made out of dust, as soon as God commanded. You know atoms? God thought those up during His spare time. Which we all know was zilch time. Since when does God have spare time anyway? I can imagine Him speaking to the angels, “Schedule me a quiet time right between when those dear little children are praying to me and when those clanging cymbals need to be reminded for the seventy-seven times seventh time that stealing doesn’t go unpunished.”

So, in the beginning, God created Adam. And the atoms.

While it took God no time at all to come up with the atom, it has taken some of the greatest scientists centuries to come up with a model of what the atom could be composed of. And the model we now have as our closest representation is still just that, close, but not complete.

This year I am taking a chemistry class, which has sparked my love and fascination for science to a whole new level of awe. One night I sat in bed doing chemistry homework as my friend from Ohio read beside me. Sophia is her name. I call her Soph out of habit. Soph is amazing. She inspires and challenges me to not just offer a place in my heart to God, but to offer my whole heart and life to Him.

As I was drawing molecules—yes molecules. I was stoked!—a thought struck me. “Soph, you know what’s crazy?”

“What?” Soph asked, looking up from her book.

“Everything, not just people, but everything in some way is trying to gain perfection.”

Soph looked at me with curiosity and turned her full attention to me as I tried to explain.

Atoms are made up of three basic parts: the protons, neutrons, and electrons. Of the three, electrons are the most important part as far as chemistry goes. And every atom besides hydrogen has a strong desire for eight specific electrons. Once an atom has eight specific electrons, it is considered perfect and is satisfied.

In this world, perfection is something we all strive for in some way or another. As atoms try to gain eight electrons to be perfect, we might try to lose eight pounds.

“For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot perform it. I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out” (Romans 7:18, AMP).

No, we cannot achieve perfection. And God has not asked us to, not on our own. Adam’s descendants, and the atoms, can only attain perfection by the power of their Savior. As Paul said, we have not the power to carry it out. But then, God does. God has the power and by Him we are made perfect, whole, and washed clean. And on that beautiful day, when I am brought to my Father’s house, He will see His power in me, and not the imperfections and insecurities that I was bound to as a fallen human.

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