Go for it
Americans are possibly the nicest people on earth. I know, you are groaning at this point and getting ready to flip the page. But visit the US and I will guarantee that everywhere you go people will ask where you’re from, and then tell you how much they LOVE your accent, followed closely by the refrain, “I have always dreamed of travelling to Oss-tray-lya!”*
Yes, Aussies and Kiwis are lovely too, but when was the last time you met an American and then launched into how much you LOVE all things American? I have an American accent and I’m going to tell you, it’s not going to happen!
But what is curious about Americans is that so many genuinely want to visit Australia, but so few actually do. Over the years I’ve responded to hundreds of Americans when they’ve shared their heart’s desire to visit Australia with a simple question, “Then why don’t you?” Nearly always the question is met with a blank stare, and a long pause. It’s as if I’ve asked why they don’t visit the Moon. Sure, they want to go there, but it’s simply outside the realms of possibility they’ve created for themselves.
It’s easy to snicker, but have we created artificial boundaries for ourselves too? It’s tempting to tell ourselves, and our youth, that in order to remain pure we have to inhibit our talents and curtail our ambitions. We may even feel a perverse piety in failure as if there is something rather sanctified about being second best. While we revel in the stories of David, Esther, Daniel and Deborah, do we think it is a sin to achieve similar greatness ourselves?
As she so often did, Ellen White dismissed the nay-sayers brilliantly in an address that provides some rather unexpected, and very timely, advice:
“Dear youth: what is the aim and purpose of your life? Are you ambitious for education that you may have a name and a position in the world? Have you thoughts that you dare not express that you may one day stand upon the summit of intellectual greatness; that you may sit in deliberative and legislative councils, and help to enact laws for the nation? There is nothing wrong in these aspirations. You may every one of you make the mark. You should be content with no mean attainments. Aim high, and spare no pain to reach the standard. The fear of the Lord lies at the foundation of all true greatness” (Fundamentals of Christian Education, p 82).
Her advice shouldn’t be a surprise. After all, Christ, through the parable of the talents, illustrated that God expects a full return from the time and resources He entrusts to us. Our world is in need of heroic action. Let’s give God our everything and go for it!
*Even if you’re actually a Kiwi...
James Standish is communication director for the South Pacific Division.