George Bowers.: Use it wisely or lose it

George Bowers Sr.

George Bowers Sr.

Last September, my wife and I took a long dreamt of vacation to Europe to attend a friend’s wedding and then to sight-see around the continent. We had a wonderful time and I only took about 4,000 photos. It reminded me of a trip I made to Germany over 30 years earlier with the FFA, although I noticed many changes.

Two major differences involved a change in currency with Germany’s transition from the mark to the euro, and the other was the absence of the Berlin Wall. Both of these had significant impacts on each trip, but one story from the earlier journey continues to stand out in my mind.

Although our group took a brief bus tour into East Berlin to the spots the Communist Party wanted us to see, three of us wanted to find out what it was really like. So one morning when we had a little free time, we ventured back through Checkpoint Charlie on foot. In retrospect, it was a rather stupid endeavor since none of us spoke German and no one important would care if the Communists detained us.

At any rate, youthful ignorance won the day and we made the jaunt. One of the requirements of entry was to exchange a minimum of 25 West German marks for 25 East German marks, which we were expected to spend while there. This was an attempt to prop up their weak economy with Western currency.

We were told before entry that whatever we failed to spend in the East had to be returned when we left, only this time it would not be exchanged, but forfeited. We then began to play The Price Is Right, attempting to spend up to the 25 mark limit without going over. We visited a grocery store and a souvenir shop where we were able to purchase items. By the time we left, each of us had spent close to our limit, but we were unable to work it out to the last penny, so we expected to forfeit our small remainders upon exit. For some unexplained reason, however, the guards never asked us for it and we left with some additional souvenirs of East German currency which were fairly rare at the time and which are still in my scrapbook.

The entire experience reminds me of all the days that lay before us in this New Year. We will exchange 24 hours of our precious lives for each one of them. We do not get to keep any unused balance, but will forfeit wasted time, never seeing it again. Like the marks, we must use our time or lose it.

With this in mind, we would do well to invest our time with even greater determination than that of any TV game show. Since the stakes are much higher, we need to carefully plan our usage of this valuable commodity to maximize our impact for Jesus Christ. This does not mean that every second needs to be filled with activity and accomplishment, for Sabbath rest is a vital part of God’s plan. But we should evaluate all we do in light of eternity.

Someone wise once observed, “I thought that I was killing time, while all the while, time was killing me.” One day, upon our exit from life, the Master will ask each of us how we used the precious time and talent he’s entrusted to us. Let us live in such a way as to be able to give a good report for 2015. Happy New Year! George

George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at

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