During the holiday break, I read a biography of the life of Francis Birtles – the little-known but truly incredible Australian adventurer. It was recommended to me. Birtles lived an extraordinary life of adventure. By 1912, he had ridden a bike around Australia twice and across it seven times. He set a speed record in a car between Darwin and Melbourne and was the first man to drive a car between London and Sydney. Despite his many harrowing near-death experiences, the story stirred in me a spirit of adventure. Stories like this tend to inspire us to – in some small, 2022-style, modern-comfort-assisted way – take risks; to attempt daring and difficult things.
I hope my own children develop that same spirit (if they can avoid the cannibalistic tribes that Birtles encountered in Burma I will be thankful) of embracing challenges and adventure. I hope all the students of our college do. But our fears often hold us back. If you’re wondering what any of this has to do with Jesus, I’m getting there. Trust me.
It’s fear that often holds us back from taking risks. What if I get it wrong? What if I fail? What if others laugh? We want our students to know that the good news about Jesus changes the way we view every circumstance of life. And that includes how we view failure, and challenge. In Romans 8:31-39 (one of the most amazing chapters in the whole Bible, in my view) Christians are reminded that if they have the confidence that God loves them, then there is nothing to fear. Literally, if God is for us, then who or what should we fear? Whether we succeed or fail, nothing can ever separate us from the love of God. That’s what is on offer through a relationship with Jesus – the confident assurance that because God now calls us his children, the fears that once held us back begin to dissolve.
I don’t want my children’s lives to be marked by fear, and yet in the world today it’s very easy to be fearful. I do want them to understand that when they have the promise of God’s love, and ultimate victory over all evil then they can approach all life’s challenges without unnecessary fear, and with great hope. The good news about Jesus changes everything*.
Mr Dan Odell
*Disclaimer: This article is in no way designed to encourage the vocation of continental crossings by bicycle and the writer accepts no responsibility for the risks associated with such activities.