By Dr Leonard Johnson
President of the Atlantic Caribbean Union Mission Conference
of Seventh-day Adventists
YESTERDAY we witnessed the beginning of a brand new year, 2015, marking the opportunity for a fresh start. For this reason, there is much excitement in anticipation of welcoming the new year. After all, the memories of 2014 are mixed with sadness, grief and disappointment, but also the blessings of God, even if we are not mindful of them. If you are reading this article, then you are still the recipient of life. That is a blessing. Nevertheless, what a privilege to start anew! As such, I pose the questions: “What will you do this year?” “What will you do differently?” “How will you utilise this new beginning?” “What will you do?”
Religious writer Ellen White observes: “If every moment were valued and rightly employed, we should have time for everything that we need to do for ourselves or for the world.” (The Ministry of Healing, page 208)
To ensure that we make the best use of the 86,400 seconds that each of us is given every day, I share the following areas for our attention and concentration:
It is important that we begin our day with that which is likely to inspire and motivate us. For the Christian that involves reading the Bible and spending time in prayer. It is said of Christ that “a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” (Mark 1:35, NKJV)
Time with God is never wasted, for it provides for a positive outlook on life and above all inspires hope.
An institution that appears to be crumbling is the family. With successive years of high murder rates it must be clear to you that numerous parents, spouses, children, siblings and friends are hurting. Family allows for a sense of belonging, meaning and purpose. Unfortunately, this sense of security seems to be lacking. Could it be the basis for a wave of lawlessness among some of the youth? Compounding the need for bonding is the lack of quality attention and time for children, spouses and others. Smartphones, tablets and computers have found their way into every nook and cranny of our lives – the bedroom, at dinner dates and during worship time. I would admit that these gadgets have their place and usefulness, but it would seem that they are controlling our lives. It does make us wonder how we managed without them. Let’s pledge to control their use. Put them down at intervals and you will discover that life goes on. A story is told of a youngster who asked his father how much he made in an hour. It is needless to say that the father was upset and thought his son was getting into his business. But after some insisting by the son the father gave in to his son’s request and shared his hourly wage. The little boy got his piggy bank and counted his savings, which was less than his father’s hourly wage. He asked his father to loan him the difference to reach the amount his father made hourly. Not knowing why his son wanted the money, the father gave it to him. The boy then placed it with his savings; therefore he now had enough money to pay his father for one full hour. You get the point! He valued his father’s time. People, family matters!
What about exercise? We need to engage in some form of physical activity so as to strengthen our bodies and muscles. Health is a priceless commodity, but too many of us are afflicted by diseases that could be remedied by exercise and change in lifestyle. The Adventist Church is seeking to launch in 2015 the “I Want to Live Healthy” initiative designed to have an impact upon each family member.
Redeeming the time
Based on the above, it must be clear that we have a responsibility to use our time wisely. As stewards we have different talents, different amounts of wealth, but the same amount of time. Unfortunately, when the day is gone, it is gone never to return, and therefore it is important that we understand the importance of redeeming the time as noted by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:15, 16. By redeeming the time he advocates that we embrace the opportunities that knock at our doors. Too often we see joblessness, roadblocks, recession and other ills, but through the eyes of Christ we may see other possibilities and potential opening of doors for the unemployed or greater use and effectiveness.
A weekly and timely reminder
Finally, I commend to you a timely reminder that God gives each weekend designed to build self, family, community, nation, and provide rest, perspective and above all reconnect us with our “roots,” or what I choose to call, our maker. It is the Sabbath or, if you please, the Lord’s Day. Rightly understood, it is not a burden or Jewish per say. Stephen Covey likens Sabbath observance to “sharpening the saw”. He says: “Suppose you were to come upon someone in the woods working feverishly to saw down a tree. ‘What are you doing?’ you ask. ‘Can’t you see?’ comes the impatient reply. ‘I’m sawing down this tree.’ ‘You look exhausted!’ you exclaim, ‘How long have you been at it?’ ‘Over five hours,’ he returns, ‘and I’m beat! This is hard work.’ ‘Well why don’t you take a break for a few minutes and sharpen that saw?’ you inquire. ‘I’m sure it would go a lot faster.’ ‘I don’t have time to sharpen the saw.’ The man says emphatically. ‘I’m too busy sawing!’”
“Like the Sabbath,” says Darrell Pursiful, “sharpening the saw” is about taking time we need for self-renewal –physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
Have a spirit-filled new year!