So just over a week ago, Felix Baumgartner became the first person to break the speed of sound without the aid of a vehicle. It’s a mind-blowing achievement, to ascend to 23 miles above the earth’s surface and step off with nothing but a parachute to guide you back safely.
Felix is the very definition of a daredevil … you only need to search YouTube for some of his other crazy stunts but this was the ultimate challenge to end his career on, and what a challenge. Literally a huge leap of faith which in the process would provide valuable data and information that scientists can use to build the next generation of space suits and give them a better understanding of the strain that the human body can deal with at such extremes.
I’ve been following this mission for the past 3 years since it became public knowledge and being the complete geek that I am, knew as much about every part of the mission as I could … the capsule design, the advanced pressure suit, the test jumps, the technology and cameras being used … but up until a couple of days before the actual jump I hadn’t thought of the ‘what ifs’. What if all this high tech gear fails him, what if his parachute doesn’t open and what if the world watches as a man plummets 23 miles to his death?
Thankfully none of the ‘what ifs’ happened and he touched down with a textbook landing to achieve the incredible feat the Red Bull Stratos had set out to accomplish. In true Neil Armstrong style, Felix delivered a line just as he was about to step off the capsule which will go down in the history books:
Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you are. I’m going home now.
An inspirational man who proves that unless you are prepared to test and push limits and records, they will remain unbroken.
Sometimes I think that about being a Christian, that unless you challenge yourself to get out of your comfort zone, then those limits will remain unbroken … it’s something I’ve struggled with in the past and continue to even now. There’s a safe zone where people know me and where I’m comfortable and outside of that, I seem to shut down on anything remotely connected to God or church.
It’s something that hopefully I can work on having recently moved church. That was a big leap of faith for me and so far it’s paid off because of the new people I’ve met and the passion for God I’ve witnessed there, but I don’t want to just be a by-stander witnessing all this happening … I want to be part of it. It might take a little longer to figure out where exactly I am meant to be, but I know that I’m being challenged to step out in faith, to get involved and knowing that God will use me in the best way possible. I wish I could be as fearless as Felix because God is my capsule, pressure suit and parachute … and with Him there are no ‘what ifs’.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
The last couple of months have been a real time of change for me. From simple material things like my phone and car, to pretty major life decisions, which includes a change of church for the first time in my life.
I have grown up in Ballyclare Presbyterian since the age of 3 and have made some great friends through the church and organisations and it’s not something that I will forget quickly, but I have felt that for the last year, I needed a bigger challenge and to feel that I had a chance to learn something myself. There were times that I honestly felt like I was giving everything I could to help and still feeling like I was being used and not having a chance to grow in my faith.
It’s probably the scariest life decision I’ve had to make, purely because I faced it alone and it was a major case of stepping out of the comfort-zone from a place where everyone had known me for the last 20 years and into a completely new place, where I thought that only a couple of people would know me. I arrived in the car park of Carnmoney Presbyterian and literally questioned myself for a few minutes … “What are you doing? You’re not going to know anyone here.” “Why didn’t you bring someone with you?!” etc etc … but finally plucked up the courage and headed for the front doors.
The door was opened for me as I approached and I was greeted by the familiar face of a guy (Matt) who I used to work with in Next a few years ago. Relief was now the overwhelming feeling and then we began chatting as if we’d only seen each other the previous week and the fear barrier quickly subsided. He introduced me to his (now) wife and a few friends and I felt instantly welcome and that these were my kind of people who I would enjoy being around.
Over the last couple of months I’ve got to know a lot more people, added a lot more Twitter followers, been invited into people’s homes, sang worship songs I’d never even heard being sang in a church before, been challenged directly by what’s being preached and have left the church building some Sunday evenings in complete awe of God.
One song that has been a regular on the set-list is “Cornerstone” by Hillsong … if you don’t remember anything that I’ve written about in this post, please just listen to the words of this song … simply incredible.
Paul writes this in Romans 12 v 2:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
I really believe that this new start in a new place is exactly the way to renew my mind and to continue to challenge me in how I act and live outside of the four walls of a church, outside of a Sunday evening. The people who I have met and got to know in the short time I’ve been at Carnmoney have made the world of difference and I feel like I’ve been part of that family for years rather than a few months … so thank you for helping me make that change.
Came across this pretty appropriate piece of advice this morning on my Twitter feed from Carlos Whittaker (@loswhit) … thought it was worth a share …
The crap you are going through does not define your story. In a year it will be a chapter. And in another a page. Press on.
— Carlos Whittaker (@loswhit) June 3, 2012
I hope he doesn’t mind me writing this, but, a work colleague and good friend of mine, and his wife, are expecting their first child. Shortly after discovering they we expecting, they were told that Sharon had a very rare kidney disorder that may cause some difficulties during the pregnancy and may cause an early arrival.
Tonight in work we discovered that the baby may be born as soon as tomorrow, a full 10-weeks premature. I arrived home and was sitting eating my dinner when I opened the Bible app on my phone and it showed me today’s ‘Verse of the Day’ and it couldn’t have been more suitable for their current situation:
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
Psalm 139 v13-14
I texted it to Jonny and his reply completely blew me away in how God works even through the worst situations that we find ourselves in. I shouldn’t be surprised or expect anything less from God but it just pulled everything back into perspective that no matter the situation or problem, it’s never to big for Him to handle.
I had the unenviable experience of attending the funeral of another grandparent recently, my last remaining grandparent unfortunately. I posted this a few weeks ago which was aimed I guess, at how tough I was finding it coming to terms with losing a family member after not having lost anyone close for the past 20 years. So you can imagine how tough it is losing 2 in the space of 4 months!
We decided against a church service for the funeral but the minister and deaconess from Whiteabbey Presbyterian joined us at the house for a short service. In a house filled with family friends, cousins, second-cousins, work colleagues and others who knew her, it was a very fitting tribute to a truly amazing little woman who I had the privilege to call my grandmother.
During the service, Sadie the deaconess, had written a little testimony to the life of granny and made mention of all her little quirks and habits which we all remembered and loved. She finished by reading a passage from Proverbs 31, entitled “A Wife of Noble Character” which was the most perfect passage that could have summed up her character, habits and life.
In it, it speaks of being a home maker, a garment maker, speaking wisdom and working vigorously … all attributes that I would instantly link to granny but the verses that impacted me the most were the following:
29 “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.” 30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Knowing that she had a great life in the 89 years she was here is comforting but it’s made even better by knowing that she is more alive now than she ever was and living a life infinitely more enjoyable than her 89 years here. That kind of blows my mind and I find it really difficult to explain to people who aren’t Christians … that in the middle of all this pain, frustration, hurt and sorrow there is a massive silver lining in knowing that she is in Heaven.
“Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.” ~ C.S. Lewis
Thanks for all the prayerful support and texts over the last while, it’s a truly indescribable feeling to have such a supportive group of friends and thanks probably isn’t a good enough expression of it but it’s all I can think of!
Just over a week ago, little Izzy was introduced to the world in a seriously ill condition. A couple of days later a Facebook group was set up to keep people up-to-date with any progress that she made. 500+ followers and many prayers later I’m writing this in a state of amazement at how readily God answers prayer.
Izzy is by no means clear of further medical problems in the long-run but to hear the news that in the next couple of weeks Jill and Jonny could be bringing her home to start life as a family is beyond amazing!
Bottom line is God is faithful.
* You can still follow Izzy’s progress and updates from Jill and Jonny at the following Facebook group Isabella Grace Harkness.
Yesterday two friends of mine were due to experience the joy of welcoming a new life into the world and the first new member into their family circle.
Unfortunately after a difficult delivery little Isabella was born not breathing and without a heartbeat, but was thankfully resuscitated and is now is the Intensive Care Unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, but is still very ill. Tonight Jonny posted this to Facebook:
Our beautiful little daughter Isabella Grace Harkness. Born at 1.12am on 28/02/12. She is very ill at the moment & is being cared for in the neonatal unit in RVH. Please pray for God’s protection over her.
“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
Psalm 139 v 13 & 14
Many of you probably don’t know Jonny or Jill … some of you won’t even believe in God or the power of prayer … but even still, please say a prayer for little Isabella’s recovery and for calm among the chaos at this incredibly difficult time for everyone involved.
* You can now follow Izzy’s progress and updates from Jill and Jonny at the following Facebook group Isabella Grace Harkness.