Atlantic Caribbean Union

A New Beginning

What a privilege! What an opportunity to be able to start anew! Nevertheless I pose the questions: “What will you do this year?” “What will you do differently?” “How will you utilize this new beginning?” “What will you do?” Quite frankly, if we recognize that each minute, hour, day, week, month and, yes, each year is a gift from God, we would seriously consider how we utilize our time. 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).

Making the Best of Each Day
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. Devotion. 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). If Jesus the Son of God would think it necessary to spend time with His Father at the beginning of each day, then certainly mere mortals need to schedule time so as to grow in grace, love, and knowledge of the will of God.

Family. An institution that appears to be crumbling is this one. With successive years of high murder rates, it must be clear to you that numerous parents, spouses, children, siblings and friends are hurting. 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 and the father feeling guilty for his poor attitude toward his 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. The same may apply to mothers; spouse-to-spouse etc. When we neglect time with family, we leave the door open to television, the Internet and others to do the job. How risky? Start the year devoting quality time to persons and things of importance. Hopefully our nation will be better. For Self. Hopefully, the New Year will be the time that you commence or resume studies formally or otherwise.

Exercise. 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.

For My Job. It is so unfortunate that there are persons who short-change and essentially rob companies of hours and still hope to be paid in full at pay date.
Time for Others. We ought not live unto self. It would be wise to devote some time assisting some organization that caters to the poor, abused and marginalized within our community. With a social consciousness we can assist many.

Redeeming the Time

Apart from the above, it is important that we recognize 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. The Apostle Paul explained in Ephesians 5:15, 16, "See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise," vs.16 "redeeming the time, because the days are evil" (NKJV). Paul is talking about more than time, as we know it chronologically. Instead his emphasis here is opportunity. Employing the Greek word “kairos,” he speaks to embracing 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.

More so is the emphasis on preparation for a significant appointment with God. Redeeming the time requires that I recognize that I will stand before a righteous God and give an account of my actions and then what? However as a wise person, I can choose, through the leading and directing of the Holy Spirit, to allow God to change me for good.

A Weekly and Timely Reminder
Finally, I commend to you a timely reminder that God gives each weekend designed to build self, family, community, 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, it is not Jewish per say; it is God’s doing in man’s behalf, but unfortunately too many are too busy to note it, and some would rather not see it. Stephen Covey makes an interesting analogy or application when he refers to the Sabbath principle as “sharpening the saw.” He penned, “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!
Pastor Leonard A. Johnson, president of the Atlantic Caribbean Union of Seventh-day Adventists (Comprising the Bahamas, Cayman Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands)