by Tom Wacaster
While doing mission work in South Africa, we had opportunity to make a trip to Zimbabwe. One thing that impressed me about the "local" citizens (by local, we mean those who still lived in remote areas of the country), was the absence of any concern about time and/or schedules. You might tell them that worship would be at 9:00 in the morning, but that did not mean anything to them. Oh, they would do their best to abide by the "white man's" time frame, but most of them did not own a watch, taking the events of the day as they got to them. But somehow the absence of watches did not stand in the way of their arrival on time. In fact, for the most part, the brethren would get there before we missionaries, and would be waiting for you when you arrived. I asked brother Mitchell, local missionary in Mutare, if their lack of concern for hourly appointments ever presented any problems. He assured me that the bushmen probably got more done in a day's time without their watches, than you and I got done with our watches. Why was that the case? It was a matter of proper management of time. The local bushman realized that there was only a limited amount of time between sunrise and sunset, and he would use it wisely and prudently as the day progressed. The following recently came to me via the internet. "Imagine there is a bank that credits your account each morning with 86,400. It carries over no balance from day to day. Every evening deletes whatever part of the balance you failed to use during the day. What would you do? Draw out every cent, of course!!!! Each of us has such a bank. Its name is TIME. Every morning, it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off, as lost, whatever of this you have failed to invest to good purpose. It carries over no balance. It allows no overdraft. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the remains of the day. If you fail to use the day's deposits, the loss is yours. There is no going back. There is no drawing against the 'tomorrow.' You must live in the present on today's deposits. Invest it so as to get from it the utmost in health, happiness, and success! The clock is running. Make the most of today." That is precisely what those native Zimbabweans did. They made the most of today. Another has made this observation:
"To realize the value of ONE YEAR,
ask a student who failed a grade.
To realize the value of ONE MONTH,
ask a mother who gave birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of ONE WEEK,
ask the editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of ONE HOUR,
ask the lovers who are waiting to meet.
To realize the value of ONE MINUTE,
ask a person who missed the train.
To realize the value of ONE-SECOND,
ask a person who just avoided an accident.
To realize the value of ONE MILLISECOND,
ask the person who won a silver medal in the Olympics."
The Psalmist writer put it this way: "So teach us to number our days, That we might get us a heart of wisdom" (Psalms 90:12). If a man in some remote corner of the world can "number his day" without the aid of a watch, or a calendar, so as to make the most of every moment, why is it that you and I, with the assistance of precise clocks, fail to get done what needs to be done? Perhaps the problem lies not in the awareness of time increments, with its hours and minutes, but in how we use that which has been given to us.