The Gift of Potential

My children were watching home videos the other day. They get a real kick out of seeing themselves on the TV. The DVD they were watching included my daughter’s 3rd birthday. As I walked by, the scene on the screen was of her sitting with me and opening her gifts. My grandparents had given her a card, and as she opened it, the gift fell into her lap; she quickly picked it up and, with much excitement, exclaimed “money!”

It struck me as peculiar that a 3-year-old, surrounded by new toys, would get excited about a paper bill. As odd as it may sound, cash has no real value – what I mean is she couldn’t eat it, shelter herself, wear it or (at least compared to the other gifts) play with it. My daughter, of course, wasn’t excited about the bill for its current form – she was excited for the potential it held. She knew that she could go to the store and pick out what she wanted and trade the piece of paper for whatever her heart desired.

We all get the gift of potential each day – 1440 minutes to use as our heart desires. Time, like money, is valuable only to the extent of what you do with it. The difference is that time is more precious because you can’t make it up if it is lost or wasted. We all get the same amount each day no matter our status in society.

Every morning we get up and the day is ours to make of it what we want. For most of us, the majority of the minutes are accounted for in our schedules and “free time” is limited and usually allocated to when we just want to crawl into bed and recharge for another day of meetings and chores. We do, however, get to choose attitude for each minute, even those minutes assigned to “job” or “folding laundry”.

The authors of 1 Thessalonians write in chapter 5:15b -18 “always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” In other words, God wants us to take the opportunity to make every minute count for Him.

Like the crisp bill inside the birthday card, each minute of our day is full of potential. There are many ways we can use those minutes to their full potential: lending someone a hand, saying a short prayer or being joyful and sharing it with others.

As we begin the Christmas season, our time can be even more in demand than normal. At a time when we should be more cheerful and loving, that stress can cause the opposite effect. The words written to the people of Thessalonica can be easily forgotten as we deal with crowded stores, schedules filled with extra events and my personal holiday angst – drivers thinking about everything but driving.

This Christmas, whether it be a stressed-out stranger in the mall, your family around the tree or the driver who just needs you to be patient, we have the opportunity to use our time to make the world a better place and bring glory to God. That is a gift of unlimited potential.

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