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By Alyson Eversman

I love nature and I love being outside. It’s where I feel God the most, the place I feel the most comfortable, and it’s the area God challenges me the most in. So, I try to be outside as much as I can, whether it’s walking the long way around campus, hammocking, “hiking” the Puddle Jumper, or just wandering around with no destination. For me, being outside allows me to clear my mind, to think, and to encounter the Creator.   

Throughout this past summer, I heard the term “prairie remnant” frequently, always being reminded that Iowa only has less than one-tenth of one percent (.001%) of these natural areas remaining.  Iowa is the most altered state in the nation. For those who don’t know, a “prairie remnant” is a grassland that, to some extent, remains undisturbed by European settlement. Thanks to my internship with the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, I was able to work on some of these remnants of Iowa, witnessing all the biodiversity they contain and observe some more rare prairie species such as hoary puccoon, green milkweed, and silver-leaf scurf-pea. It was such a gift to work on so many remnant acres of gorgeous land. 

And it was on these prairie residues that I gained a deeper reverence for God’s creation. My heart honestly did a summersault when I realized the pieces of land that I was working on have not been disturbed since God allowed the prairies to form. The thought gave me goosebumps too because I was wandering through God’s raw, undisturbed beauty, observing the native herbaceous plants, grasses, and animals residing there.  

That realization has made me want to know more about the species living on the prairie remnants – the plants’ common names and their Latin ones too, the bird species behind the songs I heard, as well as the mammals hiding because of my presence. Through understanding a plant or animal’s uniqueness (as humans do when they meet someone new) or the individual impact on their specific ecosystem, I can learn more about the awesomeness of God as well as His loving personality. Overall, I yearn to draw closer to God through His creation – an exquisite perspective of God that people tend to forget about.   

Furthermore, as an Ecological Science major, I’m required to familiarize myself with the environment, but I think as Christians this needs to become a necessity. For how can we fully care for God’s creation if we do not understand or grasp how to take care of it?  

In my opinion, creation is one kind of gateway to God, that we, as stewards, can open every single day. For me, with the help of creation, I have discovered God in a new light by noticing His handiwork throughout nature; and thus, by caring more about it, I believe that I am glorifying Him for it. 

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By Will Browning

Everyone has probably heard the story of how Humpty Dumpty fell off a wall and how all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put him back together again. Do you think that Humpty felt lonely or begged for them to try again after no one could put him back together? Do you think he called out to God? Do you think he stayed broken, forgotten, and alone forever? Unfortunately, there are hundreds of Humptys all around us, and honestly, I was one of them. 

I started to fall, like Humpty did, in the summer of 2017 when I felt spiritually drained and was headed to Uganda for two months. After contracting a bacterial infection halfway through my trip, I found myself broken into hundreds of pieces that no one, not even my friends or family, could put back together. During that fall semester, I continued to take a full 18-hour course load, work several jobs on and off campus, co-choreograph a RUSH dance, and prepare to co-lead an SSP, all while recovering from the initial infection and the seven-week long treatment that left my body susceptible to everything from a common cold to just as common depression. I would do the minimum work just to make it through the day, and I would often wake up in so much pain that I would pray to fall back asleep to escape it. These prayers were desperate grasps at an idea of God, who would do anything I wanted as soon as I asked, instead of the reality of God who did what I needed at the appropriate time. These were usually the only prayers I uttered, and when his answers weren’t the same as mine, I quickly focused back on the obstacles in front of me. 

The spring of 2018 was a new beginning. I was doing exponentially better, but I still felt separated from God. I gave him the minimum attention while taking full advantage of my new-found health. I was so hurt by the challenges of the last year that I put up barriers to guard my heart from the only one who could fix it. Two weeks before leading an SSP, God used the speaker at P&W, who shared about coming out of a time of spiritual drought, to knock down the walls I built up before him. Through the message, God reminded me that sometimes things fall apart so better things can fall into place, but it would take time and that He wasn’t going anywhere. This was the start of the long process of putting me back together. God started showing me how each challenge helped to break me, so I could be shaped into a newer and more authentic version of myself. He made me a leader when I thought I had no qualifications. He deepened my understanding of him through a RUSH dance that unintentionally represented my personal relationship with him. He encouraged me every day as I studied for the MCAT this summer by taking the anxiety, sadness, doubt, and frustration and turning it into peace and joy. Coming back to campus, I see God speaking his love into my life in many ways. One way is how he sends my peers to engage in acts of service and quality time with me through deep, spontaneous-yet-intentional conversations. Focusing on that love, I have grown so close to God that ignoring him hurts. 

Even though I was broken with little hope of being complete, God stepped in at the perfect moment to start putting me back together. He is showing me how each piece, the good and the bad, fit together to form a beloved masterpiece. He, himself, even holds these pieces together and refuses to let them go. So Yes, Humpty fell off the wall, and no one could put him back together again. Yes, he hoped someone else would help when he felt alone and everyone seemed to give up. Yes, he even cried out to God, but No, he did not remain broken. Through Christ, I was and still am being put together in the indescribable image of God.   

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By Kayli Christensen

It’s amazing how in one moment you can feel like you have everything together and the next you are wondering how you ended up where you are. That has happened in my life more than once, but one specific occasion has had an incredible impact on my view of God’s love.  

One mid-July summer day started out just like any other, I babysat four of the most adorable kids. Everyone was playing nicely together outside as I was sitting on the driveway enjoying their laughter and smiles. After a while, I took the youngest inside to change his diaper. After being in the house for only about two minutes I heard a cry from the front door, “KAYLI, GAGE IS RUNNING AWAY!” As a nanny, those words weren’t exactly music to my ears. I quickly strapped a diaper on the baby, threw him on my hip and took off out the door. When I got outside I could see a blonde little head off in the middle of the neighboring cornfield. I took off running, without shoes on, and with a baby wearing only a diaper in my arms. As I ran through this cornfield, my earlier thoughts of ‘wow, what a great day!’ were quickly vanishing. I eventually caught up with little Gage, as my heart was pounding, my arms were aching, and my feet were caked in soil. As I reached for his hand to head home, he looked at me with his cute little face and said, “Kaywee your feets durty…” and we both walked back to the house with a sense of confusion. I was very relieved to have his little hand back in mine and he was concerned about the amount of dirt caked to my feet.  

To this day I have no idea why 4-year old little Gage decided to take a walk through a cornfield, but in some ways, I am very thankful he did because through that experience God opened my heart to His reckless love. I began to put myself in the shoes of the father of the prodigal son. Luke 15:20 says, “…And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.” The father loved his son so much that he took off running even when all he had was a glimpse of his lost boy. 

I learned that day that the very nature of God’s love is to pursue me and to meet me right where I am. He doesn’t just stand at the gates of heaven yelling for me to come home; God’s love runs toward me in the midst of my mess. Even when what I am doing makes no sense, and I sometimes look at God and say something to the effect of “Kaywee your feets durty…” He still is in never ending pursuit of my life. God knew I was going to get lost in life but being lost doesn’t take me away from His love. Romans 8:38 is a great reminder that there is nothing I can do that will ever separate me from the love of God. Not. One. Thing. could be covered in mud, in the middle of a southwest Iowa cornfield and His love is there. I could be living lost, in a life of sin, and His love would still seek me out. I could never out run the love of God, because He will never give up on me. 

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By Carter Behler

I came to Northwestern as a freshman in fall of 2015. I had chosen Northwestern because it was the only college that worked with me so that I could pursue a theatre major, while also participating on the NWC wrestling team. But as soon as school began I immediately fell behind. I missed classes, practices, assignments you name it. Because of this, my grades began to slip.  This didn’t change when the spring semester began.  

By the end of the school year, I couldn’t wait to leave. I felt like my heart wasn’t in it anymore, not to mention that I had a lot of personal things going on in my life that caused me to become depressed. Over the course of that summer, I was dreading returning to what I viewed as the ‘hell’ waiting for me.  Because I felt like I was not prepared for the stress of school again, because of a wrestling injury, and because of being on both academic as well as a chapel probation, just a few weeks before the start of fall 2016 I decided tnot return to Northwestern College.  Instead, I decided to stay home where I worked and went to class part time at a nearby community college. 

I felt lost. I felt like I had taken a wrong turn somewhere, like I turned down the wrong path in life and needed to back-track and get myself back on track.  But with hindsight being 20/20, now looking back I realize that the path I chose was exactly where I needed to be, I just had some twists and turns obscuring my view and perception.  That same fall, the fall of 2016, our nation’s last presidential election took place. I happen to be taking a political science class, and so I started paying more attention.  Needless to say, the election was so crazyconfusion, question-inspiring, and frankly just sometimes hard to keep up with. I was also taking a history class, and it clicked in my head how much I enjoyed learning history, especially U.S. History. I started getting more motivated to learn, to study the topics, to keep up with the current events. And the funny thing is, I had only chosen to take these classes because I needed general education courses and they fit the bill. But now, I find myself genuinely enjoying learning about these topics!  

Beyond the learningI also started praying more – I found myself talking to God often and asking him where he is leading me and what he aspires me to do in life By this time, the injury I had suffered from wrestling at NWC had been fully healed, and I started feeling the drive to compete again. It was in that moment of realizing this, that it clicked in my head what God was doing in my learning, my prayer life, my body, and my future. I immediately texted my wrestling coach, Richard Dahl, and I had a plan set up to return here to Northwestern College in fall of 2017.  

Fast-forward to today, I am off academic probation and currently working on a double major in history and secondary education with a minor in political science. My grades are improved, I am competing again in both in track and wrestling, and it’s amazing to see God’s purposes for my life becoming more clear.    

I felt like I had lost my footing in the world. The path I was walking felt too beaten and winding to feel like it was mine. But now, reflecting on the past two years of my life reminds me of the story of the man who walked in the sand with Jesus. When the man looked back at the times that were hard for him, he only saw one set of prints in the sand, he turned to Jesus and asked “Why did you leave me in my times of despair? And Jesus replied, “I never left you, it was in those times of difficulty that I carried you.” I can look back now and see how God aided the steps and guided me through the times of despair even when it felt like he wasn’t present. He guided me back to Northwestern and I am so happy to be back; but this time, I’m fueled with a sense of purpose and belonging as I know whose walks with me.