My Christian Watch
You might be surprised to hear that I have a Christian watch. But its true – I just realized it this morning. How can a watch be Christian you might ask? Good question. I love good questions. Let me try to explain.
My watch relies completely on the sun for all of its power, a resource outside of itself. And although it does have some kind of battery inside I suppose, it is not the kind that you must change when it runs out of energy. It uses some sort of solar collection system to re-energize its storage unit so that in fact for a number of years now the measurement indicator on the face telling me how much internal energy it has stored up is almost always maxed out. Even after many long dark days of winter it tells me that it has plenty of energy to keep going faithfully, serving me almost 24/7 to reliably tell me what time it is. Why almost? More on that later.
It is versatile. My watch is one of those fancy digital, new-fangled contraptions that not only tells me what time of day it is, but what month and day as well as other functions that I never use like a stop-watch, multiple time zones, alarm, etc. And while it is getting rather old now, especially given the lifetime of a typical watch nowadays, it is still working quite well for what I need.
It is resistant to damage. That is something I have really appreciated over all the watches I owned previously. This watch is water-resistant and shock resistant. I don't know just how deep I could take it underwater before it might be destroyed by damaging water, but I'm quite sure it is much deeper than my ears could ever withstand. So I am not afraid to jump into deep water and go swimming or get into a shower without taking my watch off. This has come in handy a number of times when we wanted to go swimming and still be able to know what time it was.
My watch seems to be really eager to let its little light shine too. Now that sounds like a good Christian doesn't it? For quite a while after I bought this watch I had no idea how to turn on the light. And yet after it got fully charged after a few months it developed this little quirk of suddenly lighting up with joy whenever I moved my arm at night in a certain way. This actually sometimes seems like a nuisance when I might turn over at night and suddenly the bed lights up from my watch thinking I want to know the time. My wife has even complained at times that my watch likes to flash her at night. But now I have learned that if I want to see the time while laying in bed that if I bring my arm up towards my face in just the right way it will light up for a second and I can check the time without having to mess with any buttons.
Interestingly the way I finally learned to use a button to turn the light on was when I had a little child in my lap one day who was pushing everything on my watch to see what would happen. To my surprise they pushed something I didn't even know was a button on the face and turned on the watch light. I was very happy that they had finally shown me how to use my own watch so after that I knew how to get the light to come on without swinging my arm around wildly trying to get it to light up.
Because my watch has been so reliable and faithful and resilient, it has lasted many more years than any other watch I have owned. Yes, it is uncomfortable bulky which my wife complains about regularly and even insists that I take it off in bed at times. But even though it can sometimes be a bit obtrusive and clumsy, I also appreciate the fact that I bought it on sale for a fraction of the price they were asking originally. God blessed me with a good price, a faithful watch and savings experienced from not having to replace it for many years.
Because it is getting quite worn the face is now showing signs of wear along with the band. I have used it during all sorts of work including years of painting, carpentry and other rough activities. Because of this there are scratches from squeezing my hand into tight places that were too rough and it has been sometimes splattered with paint. At different times I have painted it over with a special black acrylic shoe polish to cover up many of the discolorations and make it look more presentable for more formal occasions like church. Also, one of the main buttons has failed to function now for several years so when I go to a different time zone I can no longer change the time on my watch. So I guess I am stuck living in my present time zone as my watch may be unwilling to live anywhere else.
I am sure by this time some may be wondering, “Why does this guy claim to have a Christian watch? What he has described so far is no different than most watches today and in many respects is even quite inferior. So what is so special about this watch that makes him think its unique enough to call it a Christian watch?”
Again that is a very good question. I love honest questions for it betrays an open mind, at least most of the time. I agree that everything I have shared so far is rather common and to be expected of any good watch today. But I have left my real reason for last, because you see the thing I admire the most about my watch is not just that it is water-proof as much as I like that, for I don't spend much time in water these days and I almost never wear my watch into the shower. So that is not really anything to write home about – or away from home in this case.
Neither are any of the other things I have listed so far something that might be construed to make this watch different enough to assert some similarity to the uniqueness that Christians should be known for generally. But there is something that caught my attention this morning that made me appreciate my watch and even reminds me daily of something vitally important for me as a Christian myself.
First let me share a verse that came to my mind as I was getting up and thinking about this while the first light of dawn was just beginning to sneak into my room.
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. (Mark 1:35)
Now, this text resonates strongly with many things that I have experienced over the years as a growing Christian. From as early as I can remember, my family had the practice of conducting something called 'family worship' morning and evening every day of the week, every day of the year. It mattered not what other pressing needs or plans or activities were scheduled, my father never allowed anything to interfere with this routine. And while at times we might feel the need to shorten it slightly, this practice was conducted in our home year after year until it became literally a deeply ingrained part of my psyche that I never lost after leaving home. And although after a number of years I ended up not so faithfully having worship in the evening, every morning I have felt compelled to take time to read and pray and seek to know the truth even through years of darkness and fear and misunderstandings about God that often made me more afraid than attracted to Him.
For quite a number of years after I left home, because of the heavy emphasis on law-keeping and dark views of God that were induced in my heart from misrepresentations about Him, my devotions were pretty much times of forcing myself to read the Bible no matter how dull or boring or anything else it felt. During those years I found myself often reading other material that seemed easier to understand, but my ever-present guilt and fear of condemnation compelled me to spend at least some time reading the Bible itself each day.
Some may assume that all of this forced religious activity may have been more harmful than helpful for me. And while I certainly developed a healthy case of resentment and even learned to use what I was reading to try to make others feel guilty like myself, I still do not regret inheriting this habit of daily devotions. And even though for many years my feelings about God were more along the lines of appeas brain with things that later would come back to bless me.
Now I'm sure some are starting to think that I have lost my mind altogether and that I am too old to remember what I started talking about at the beginning. What does a lifetime of habitual devotional time have to do with a clumsy watch that is getting old and worn? Good question. I love good questions. Let me finally get around to explaining that. And many who know me by now know how long that can take sometimes.
You see, my watch is a little different than most watches I see on other people's wrists. For my watch has all its life practiced something very similar to what was drilled into me from before I was even born. Every morning, while it is still dark, my watch shuts down its face and blanks its screen and becomes useless for telling me what time it is. During these daily times I know that my watch is focusing intently and exclusively on listening very carefully for a faint, invisible radio signal that comes from hundreds of miles away. And why does it practice this little routine faithfully every morning of its life? Because my watch has been designed to synchronize itself with a master device somewhere in Colorado that operates with incredible precision to assist similar devices all over the country in order to stay in harmony with each other. Every device that thus utilizes this unseen resource all will faithfully display the right time of day and should agree with each other. These are called 'atomic clocks' or watches even though they don't really have any atomic power inside themselves.
The real beauty of an atomic clock is not its ability to keep time itself over many days or years. No, the advantage that an 'atomic watch' has over other ordinary watches is that each morning it calibrates itself to be perfectly realigned by the time signal it receives from a distant but extremely reliable source that somehow uses atomic energy to keep extremely accurate time. It then sends out accurate signals each morning to all the devices that are willing to listen to its instructions.
Now here is a very cool thing about my watch, especially now that it its getting old and decrepit and maybe even a little dysfunctional (I resist adding “a little like me”). For as most of us know, twice a year we are all expected to change our time-keeping devices to accommodate some crazy, out-dated notion that the sun should suddenly come up and set at a different time of the day than previously. We call this daylight-savings time. And while I have rather strong feelings about the nonsense of such a practice at this time in history, my opinions carry no weight with the powers that control such things.
But here is the really neat thing about my watch. If I had to change the time on my watch during these irritating times twice each year like I have to do with all the other clocks in my house, I would have to put up with a watch that was simply one hour off for half of the year. Since the button for changing the time on my watch no longer functions, I would be stuck either trying to remember to translate in my head what time it is each time I looked at my watch like I have to do now when I travel to see others in a different time zone, or I would have to just get a different watch.
But even though my watch is old and beginning to not respond to physical commands like it is used to, it is still faithful to listen intently each morning to a signal from far away that instructs it as to what to think and then relay that information to those looking at its face. So a night or two ago when the time changed, I got up in the morning to see that my watch faithfully shared with me the corrected time of day even when every other clock in the house was wrong.
Now, I know that many people are familiar with atomic clocks and enjoy the same benefits from them that I do. But what I think is so cool is that God reminded me this morning that I need to take a lesson from my watch for myself. I think back on the many years that I woke up early in the morning feeling nudged to get out of bed and share some intimate time synchronizing with a faint signal from the Holy Spirit that is always seeking to bring my heart into harmony with the gracious, loving heart of my Father in heaven. And even though for many years I did so more to avoid a feeling condemnation and from a sense of obligation more than anything else, God still wanted to use these times to try to share with me important signals that someday would begin make more sense.
As I think back over a lifetime of morning awakenings where God has sought to teach me the real truth about Himself that for so long was obscured by my fears, my misconceptions and misapprehensions about Him, I can now see that I have needed far more radical corrections than my watch has ever needed. Much more than simply twice a year, the signals from God's Spirit has sought to make major changes in the way I need to perceive reality and especially to adjust my perceptions about God. Still today I feel that I am barely scratching the surface when it comes to accurately reflecting the true heart of the Father. But at the same I am extremely grateful that what I now believe is in sharp contrast to the fear-based, condemnation-perpetuating perceptions about God that marked so many of my early years.
I have also come to better appreciate the immense importance and significance of the enormous powerful nature of the center of the universe from which these signals originate. I am privileged to not just be able to tune into signals powered by some of the most advanced scientifically developed power sources known to man, but I, and anyone else who truly desires to be transformed, have the privilege of daily tuning into a signal that is ever present to guide, to instruct, to transmit vital, life-giving information not only to my mind but far more importantly to my heart. If I am willing to simply engage the effort to respond to the drawing attraction of the presence of God who is eager to open up to me each morning new, fresh insights into truth, into the ways and methods and disposition and personality of God Himself, the very Source of all power that exists everywhere, I can connect with One who is ready to engage with me and who humbles Himself to commune with me in ways that meet my level of understanding.
I believe this is very close to the heart of what it really means to be a Christian. While the world has redefined this word to mean many other things that may or many not have anything to do with genuine Christianity, God is waiting to introduce Himself to every heart that will give Him the time by tuning in each day while also tuning out from every other distraction so that the heart can be adjusted a little more each day to reflect more closely the heart of our Redeemer.
So, now can you see why I think my watch could be called a 'Christian watch'? I know, the radio signals that synchronize my watch each morning don't come directly from heaven. But the wisdom and knowledge and science that enabled those who set up such a system all came from the Original Source who created all such things. So indirectly this whole network of time-keeping has resulted from God's empowerment, and my watch becomes yet another example that God uses to remind me to be still and daily listen to that still, small voice yet again.
The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being taught. (Isaiah 50:4 NIV)
The Lord God has given me the tongue of those who are experienced, so that I may be able to give the word a special sense for the feeble: every morning my ear is open to his teaching, like those who are experienced: And I have not put myself against him, or let my heart be turned back from him. (Isaiah 50:4-5 BBE)