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.