Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Can a 16 Year-Old Girl Really Do Anything?

It was remarkable to see the reception that 16 year-old Jessica Watson received on her arrival in Sydney on Saturday. Tens of thousands of people turned out to welcome the girl that our Prime Minister called our "newest hero". As someone who has sailed around the world (HMAS Sydney, 1990, 450 foot ship, crew of 225, 6 months, lots of stops!) and experienced some of the challenges of being at sea in rough weather, I have nothing but respect for Jessica's efforts to sail around the world, solo, unassisted in a 34 foot boat in seven months!

Of course Jessica received a great deal of support from her parents and sponsors and was able to be in regular contact through the wonders of satellite communications. Nevertheless she had to face the challenges of solo sailing with all its inherent dangers, including huge seas which apparently knocked her boat over 7 times. It takes a special kind of mental toughness to tackle such a huge endeavour and to persevere to the end.

We might be thinking differently if there had been some accident or disaster. Many more experienced round-the-world sailors have failed in their attempts. Remember Tony Bullimore and Thierry Dubois – rescued by HMAS Adelaide from the Southern Ocean in 1997? Bullimore had to wait 5 days in his upturned boat before being rescued. Another competitor in the same race, Gerry Rouffs, lost his life.

But Saturday was all about celebrating Jessica's success. When the Prime Minister called Jessica a hero, she said:
I'm going to disagree with the Prime Minister. I don't consider myself a hero. I'm an ordinary girl who believed in her dream. You don't have to be someone special, or anyone special to achieve something amazing. You've just got to have a dream, believe in it and work hard.
They are inspiring words, but are they true? They certainly are a great encouragement to young people to dream great dreams and work hard to achieve them. While it is true that not everyone who dreams a dream and really believes in it will achieve their goal, it is also true that people who dream big and work hard to achieve their dream are more likely to achieve something!

This leads me to reflect on what young Christians dream about. Do we encourage our young people to dream great dreams for God and work hard to achieve them? Or are we happy to let them continue on with the same ambitions as the world around them? It is great for the 'old folks' to dream of reaching our city, nation and the world for God – when in reality our capacity to do the new things needed for such a mission are much more limited. But what if our young people started to dream big and started working on being and doing what is necessary to proclaim Christ to everyone around us? What if they were prepared to give up the small ambitions of the world and continue their whole lives working in God's strength to see His kingdom grow? Then we might indeed see great things done for God's kingdom in our own day.


  1. Hi Richard,
    Great post. I think that living my 'worldly ambition' of having a large family and being a stay-at-home mum is just as important and necessary as 'dreaming big' by proclaiming Christ to the world. I feel that teaching my children about Christ, and about God's love for them, and encouraging them to live for Jesus is an entirely valid and worthy part of growing God's kingdom - as much as proclaiming Christ to people all over the world. I dream of having many, many more children who I can share this knowledge with, and train up to be soldiers of Christ - thus building the kingdom of God.

    I often wish 'the church' would encourage Christian families to not only build up the kingdom of God by telling others about Him, but by having more children who would thus be born into Christian families and grow up knowing Christ from birth. What a great way to grow the kingdom :)

    Thanks for 'advertising' your blog on facebook - I'll bookmark it and check back from time to time :)

    Mim (remember me from UOW?)

  2. Hi Mim, thanks for your comment.

    How could I forget? Wollongong days - idyllic!

    I trust that your family ambitions are not just 'worldly', but that, under God, they are part of your 'dreaming' of kingdom growth. I don't know how 'big' your dream might be (we prayed for one at a time - and stopped at 4!). I want to encourage more girls (and guys) to see the value and importance of godly parenting in kingdom growth.

    Of course the children themselves are not your only opportunity - I hope that you will be making the most many opportunities for outreach - things like pre-school drop-off, infants school-gate, school canteen, playgroup, play dates, coffee with other mums, family BBQ's with families of kids friends. One of the times when people are most open to the gospel and coming to church is when they have a young family! Especially important to be working & praying with Christian friends and involved in a good church that values families ministry.

    I hope and pray that you'll keep on 'dreaming big' for God's kingdom where you are. H'burg for Christ!