We Owe the Time

Written by David Johnson

“What were you most surprised at after your first visit to America?” I ask, Tito, a Sudanese soldier and pastor who has dedicated his life to protect the freedom of southern Sudan.

“I have never experienced a place without war, and that is very nice about America, but you people are so so busy. People just running around everywhere with schedules full of all kinds of activity. You know, David, you Americans own the expensive watches, but we Africans…we own the time.”

I will never forget Tito’s statement. It made me think about how many people all over the world fight for freedom and desire peace. They come to America because it offers both.

Tito’s observation of the American culture was also piercing. It penetrated backstage, behind the curtains of our lavish living and constant activity. It unveiled our often unrecognizable enslavement…our schedules.

I sometimes get frustrated when African events and meetings do not start on time. People often show up late with only the excuse of, “I was having tea with a friend.” Then I consider the culture. For a continent that has endured centuries of enslavement, they have refused to be owned by a schedule. When war and persecution encircle you, the only things you have to hold onto are your faith and your friends. Schedules, titles, money, and entertainment will not save you in the midst of war.

One of the first things God did when he set the Israelites free from their slavery was to teach them about the sabbath. He did not bring them out of slavery to watch them fall back into bondage. So He reminded them of the need to take time for rest and reflection.

While leading the Scottish out of slavery, William Wallace challenged his people and asked, “What will you do with this freedom?”

After speaking with Tito, I wonder what have we done with our freedom… have we used our freedom only to enslave ourselves? Sometimes the most difficult bondage to be set free from is a self inflicted one.

See more of David’s world at www.silentimages.org


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  1. This is amazing. I see this so often. I feel like God has liberated me from this type of slavery, and I pray that more folks will soon come to realize the beauty of the freedom Christ offered. Not only from sins, but debt, pressure to perform, and worrying about our stuff (food, clothing, shelter). I love this!

  2. mel says:

    Hi!
    I also really appreciate this article, thank you. It is simple and direct! I have to agree with you in the confession that most of us are slaves and by our own discretion. The problem is most of us are unaware that we are even making the choice against our freedom. Our American consuming culture which is cunning and deceptive disguises greed. And everyone’s(well most) trying to please the God of success in some form. I really like the line “you Americans own the expensive watches, but we Africans…we own the time.” Just beautiful!!

    The only chain I can stand is the chain of hand in hand!
    Thanks again.

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