Give me one moment in time
When I’m racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time
I will feel eternity — Whitney Houston
On Sunday, November 19, the Jamaica Observer carried an article I wrote with the headline ‘A Nation Ripe for Change: Pick it now!’ Subheadings for two paragraphs were ‘Something Is Shifting’ and ‘Church, Arise’. The National Days of Fasting, Prayer and Repentance on the weekend of December 2 and 3 seem to be indicating that the Church is indeed arising and a shift is taking place!
The prime minister’s prayer, in particular, was for me very significant. As the elected leader of the nation, it seems he prayed with clarity of mind and sincerity of heart. The Church, resplendent in its element, was likewise passionate in its prayers to God on behalf of our nation. But lest anyone from either Church or State believe that this is mission accomplished, let me declare that this is only the beginning of a process.
These days of prayer and repentance, once again called and led by the Church but with the full support of the Government, were of immense importance at a most critical time in the life of our nation.
The Jonah moment
The Bible story of Jonah, though known by most as Jonah and the Whale, is really a record of God’s prophet proclaiming to a nation that they would face destruction in less than two months. Subsequently, the nation and leader responded in such a way that God Himself ensured that the nation survived and prospered. The exciting parallel in the Jonah story is that the nation’s leader took the lead and was followed by the greatest to the least.
Like Nineveh, we have for a few decades now been going through a time of serious spiritual, moral, social, and economic decline, so much so that some would be ready to declare that we don’t have much more time to survive as a nation. Like Nineveh, our nation’s leader has taken the lead by leading the nation in a serious prayer of confession and repentance. Will he be followed by the greatest to the least of us?
The events of December 2 and 3 could be Jamaica’s ‘Jonah time’. Yes, indeed, it could be such a time if we know how to follow up with right action.
The past three decades of our socio-economic decline have seen the nation at its worst; causing great pain, hardship and suffering to its people. Our murder rate has branded us as a wicked nation. Our poverty, hopelessness and despair are at a peak. The abuse of our women and children is rising to unprecedented proportions, or is finally being revealed because of the accessibility of social media. General sexual degradation and promiscuity seem to be at the worst levels in our history. Jamaica, land we love, seems to be in a period when everything evil is at its worst. God help us!
Our nation has been called to repent, that is to think again about what and how it is operating, with a view to turning away from the negative attitudes and behaviours to what is righteous and positive. We all now must embrace and find our place in the process and we must act now!
The recent discovery of over a hundred guns and accessories destined for Jamaica means that there are people who are determined to destroy our beautiful isle. We who want to see our nation progress and prosper must therefore determine to engage the kind of righteous actions that will make the destroyers’ actions null and void. For it is righteous activities that exalt or cause a nation to prosper. Come on, Jamaica, it is time we all embrace a defined set of right values and principles to live by before it’s too late.
The nature of repentance calls for a heart posture of humility and recognition of mistakes and wrong actions with a willingness to acknowledge them before men and God the Creator.
Some would say that the Church has called for prayer and repentance many times before, yet our social and economic slide into a nation-destroying abyss continues. What therefore is different this time?
To those I would say, we have never before had the highest authority lead the cry of repentance. The most powerful and important aspect of national repentance, that carries the greatest significance to reap the highest Divine benefits from the exercise, is the responsible act of leading repentance by the nation’s leader. This act of humility was carried out by our new-era prime minister, Andrew Holness. He has, by his singular action, set the stage for all the people, from the greatest to the least, to ‘follow back ah him’.
He called the nation and bowed his head and heart in a powerful wide-ranging prayer of repentance for his sins and those of the people and various sectors of the nation. It has never before been seen on this level in the recent history of our nation, and certainly not by a prime minister.
I said it is of great significance because when a nation does wickedly, that becomes a stench in the nostrils of God. When it is in dire trouble, and in need of deliverance from its enemies or suffering judgment, it is the cry of the highest authority in the land that is most effective to guarantee immediate response from Jehovah, Lord of heaven and Earth.
The church can and must pray in those situations. Men and women of God can intercede for the nation in an appeal for God’s mercy. But the cry of the highest authority in the land, supported by the greatest and the least of the people of the land, ensures that God’s mercy and grace are guaranteed.
Church, it’s time!
The Church must view Holness’s recent prayer and participation in the days of fasting and prayer as an indicator that the time to act is now. We have called for our leaders to repent. Now it has been done. So we must step in and teach the nation what is required. For true repentance requires not only confession, but also that we think again and change our related behaviour. So the ‘Jonah’ message of the Church to the nation; to the private sector, to civil society, to the communities, to families, must be what each must do to cause the change that we all want to see.
The Church cannot rest on its laurels and say that repentance has happened. The engagement of the highest authority in the land in this process has opened an unparalleled window of opportunity for transformation to be ushered in. But if the Church doesn’t seize this moment, it will be lost and nothing will change.
The Church must now arise and play its most critical role that only it can do. The Church needs to make the most of this season of repentance. The Church needs to get out into the communities and interpret for the people the power and benefit of the prime minister’s action and call the people to do likewise and turn to a better way of living.
PM used his moment wisely
Our PM did what was not only good, but essential to save this nation from the foreseeable consequence of its accumulated actions and continuous bloodshed, oppression, injustice, corruption, lewdness, division, greed, neglect of the poor, and witchcraft against one another. He has confirmed that he is willing to do what is right and necessary, even if it has not been done before. He is willing to make new and bold initiatives and humble himself in the interest of the people. This act of repentance led by Holness has created a shift in the spiritual realm for which the nation will begin to reap the benefits in both the short and long term.
When a nation and its people repent and turn to a path of right-doing, it breaks the negative cycle and opens them up to the blessings of Almighty God. When he commissions your blessing, no power can reverse it. These are events that change the destinies of nations.
What will you do with
The act of the prime minister is but the beginning. We should follow, from the greatest to the least.
There are some who question the sincerity of Holness’s heart. I have no doubt he was sincere, believing what he was saying. And I must point out to persons with that concern that, although sincerity is important to God, when it comes to leadership, the principle of right doing by the authority carries significant weight, even if the sincerity level is low. Therefore, let us not judge the action but accept it and be glad that the right thing was done.
“There is always something symbolic when the leaders of the nation say to the people of the nation, let us pray.” This is how the prime minister began, and he was correct. My heart has been moved to greater action.
Each day I live, I want to be
A day to give the best of me
I’m only one but not alone
My finest day is yet unknown
I want one moment in time
When I’m more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me
I believe we have got our moment and it is now up to us to respond wisely. It’s now up to us, from the greatest to the least, to find our place in the process that began on December 2 and 3.
Copyright © 2017 by Rev Dr. Al Miller.