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Beauty Queens and World Peace

I’m reading a book at the moment called “A Quest for More” by Paul Tripp. I’ve only the first chapter read and already it has got me thinking. Tripp starts off the book with the classic scenario from beauty pageants the world over.

The beautiful girls parade across the stage, and then each is brought forward to the microphone to utter some deep cherished hopes for her reign as Miss Wherever. Usually it is something along these lines, “I want to work for world peace, and to solve world hunger, and to promote equality”.

We snigger and roll our eyes—noble goals, but so grandiose and out of reach.

Yet Tripp goes on, not to mock, put to point out that there is “woven inside each of us a desire for something more—a craving to be part of something bigger, greater, and more profound than our relatively meaningless day-to-day existence.”

Maybe that’s why we strive to do things that others haven’t—climb mountains or row oceans—or to invest ourselves in causes—political, social, sporting or whatever—to give us a sense of being part of something bigger and more significant.

That buzz you get from being there when your school won a final. Or from being part of a team refurbishing an orphanage. Or from voting in some historic event. Or from even watching the inauguration of the first African-American President of the USA. That sense of I was there, I was involved, I did that.

Tripp says, “We aren’t constructed to live only for ourselves. We were placed on earth to be part of something bigger than the narrow borders of our own survival and our own little definition of happiness.”

This resonates with me. We were made for something much bigger than mere existence. We were made for something great. Not necessarily to be great—for that would be arrogance—but to be involved in something that matters. We all want to matter.

Perhaps the beauty contestant isn’t so far off the mark after all. In that often mocked moment she has got something right—the desire to live for something big.

But where can that be found? There is nothing big enough or grand enough in this world to satisfy that desire. Ask the rich and famous. Tripp tells of one such man he came across who had everything, but complained “I have it all, why can’t I be happy?” Tripp writes, “he had constructed his own kingdom, indulged his every dream, met his every need… but he discovered it was an empty kingdom, and he was an empty king”.

The tragedy was not that he attempted too much, but that he had settled for too little.

It’s only when we look Godwards that we find something big enough and grand enough to live for. Something worth living and dying for.

Perhaps in these days when we are seeing the emptiness of possessions, and the futility of pursuing material goods, we need to rethink what it is that we are living for. And ask the question: Is it big enough?

Mark Loughridge is the minister of Milford Reformed Presbyterian Church. He can be contacted on 074 9123961 or You can read more or listen online at