Follow your dreams is the advice given to us by the winner of the Australian of the Year awards. “You can realise your dreams … right here. Look into your own heart. And look into your own land”, said Quantum physicist Professor Michelle Yvonne Simmons as she accepted the award.
It’s true, we need a vision, a dream to inspire us to be the best we can be. But dreamers need to be doers as well. If the world goes to ruin, it won’t be because someone invented a bigger, better bomb, but because someone installed a cheaper shoddier switch (or a more unstable President!) Many grand plans fail because of poor implementation. In 2009 the Rudd government set up a Home Insulation Program as an economic stimulus measure to help ward off the effects of the global financial crisis and deliver a energy saving benefit to home owners. A grand vision, but as the later Royal Commission into four deaths and hundreds of fires that resulted from installing the insulation found, the implementation fell short: poorly trained staff, under-resourcing, poor regulation, a get rich quick attitude of some of the employers.
It is often said that the devil is in the details. In other words, details are important and when details are overlooked, problems arise. We often hear about an insurance policy that promises peace of mind in the event of a disaster or accident, but discover that the cover offered is much less that at first thought when we read the fine print (the details). If you sign without paying attention to the fine print (the details), you could be in for a sorry surprise later on. Because the devil is in the details!
But equally success (or salvation) is in the details. Eddie Woo, an innovative Sydney maths teacher was named Australia’s Local Hero for 2018. His online “WooTube” channel has more than 100,000 subscribers while his videos have attracted more than eight million views worldwide. Mr Woo started video tutorials five years ago to help just one student, who was too sick to attend school. There was no grand vision, just a desire to help, implemented well by someone with detailed skills in teaching and use of the internet. Woo’s salvation and success was in the details, the outcome beyond Mr Woo’s wildest dreams. The son of Chinese-Malaysian parents who migrated to Australia to get a better education for their children, Mr Woo decided to pursue a career in teaching to “pay it forward”.
If you are like me, talk of grand visions and big dreams seem a little too grand and a little too big. But I can and do try to respond to the needs and modest challenges that I stumble across each day. Perhaps as Professor Simmons said, “… right here. Look into your own heart. And look into your own land”.
We are reading the Gospel of Mark at church this year. I love the sense of location. The “right here” in your own place emphasis that Mark gives to the story of Jesus. It’s Capernaum, it’s the Sea of Galilee, it’s Simon’s house. Israel was a remote part of the Roman empire, Capernaum is a remote part of Israel. It is here God will do his great thing. Jesus calls ordinary people to be his disciples. We are told that his very first disciples were fisherfolk, called while they were plying the skills of their trade; casting their nets and mending their nets. But they respond to a grander vision when invited to “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people”.
Great things happen, the Kingdom of God breaks in, when we respond with love and skill to the needs and opportunities we see “right here”, “in our own land”.
This is the gospel, and it’s good news.
Brian Spencer, Minister