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Time for a spiritual check-up

Why there is much to learn from clocks, old and new, writes Don Attenborough



In the book of Ecclesiastes we find the writings of a wise philosopher, probably David’s son Solomon. At times it is very negative and full of depressing thoughts, a book containing much pessimism and doubt. But if we are honest this man’s thoughts are similar to those we ourselves have from time to time in the Christian life.

I also believe this book contains more sarcasm and wit than many of its readers realise. Here is a man who has it all; royal birth, money, power, possessions; all the pleasures and delights of life at his finger-tips. He has come to see that it is vanity and foolishness. The writer has learnt, probably the hard way, that trying to do things his way, without God, only brings trouble and hardship. God’s way is always best, and brings the greatest satisfaction in life. God’s ways alone bring peace of mind and fullness of joy.

Solomon is often echoing the words of complaint he heard each day in his personal conversations, or in the overheard conversations of others. He ends his book with the words:

“After all there is only one thing to say: Have reverence for God, and obey his commands, because this is all that man was created for. God is going to judge everything we do, whether good or bad, even things done in secret.”

Now we know that God will do this through Jesus his Son when he returns to judge the nations, to judge the living and the dead. But first, he came to bring forgiveness and new life through the cross. It is foolishness to ignore God; from him we came and to him we go, there is no escape. But his love for us is unmeasurable!

Telling the time

A new interest has helped me reflect on these truths. My small garden office is about 8’ x 8’. Along with many things crammed into it there are, at present, six old mechanical clocks - those you have to wind up. Two of them chime the hours. I take pleasure in hearing them all tick away, each with its own distinct sound. It seems that no two clocks have the same ticking sound, which reminds me how we have all been created by Jesus. Although we share certain characteristics, we are all nonetheless basically unique. No two DNA samples are totally the same, not even in identical twins. There is always a small percentage of difference. Certainly no two fingerprints are the same. God has made it so, as Psalm 139: 13-16 reminds us.

My wife has found this clock business a little odd, as I used to sometimes turn my bedside alarm clock off because it was too loud. She thinks it’s possible that some of the blood I received during my heart bypass operation last year must have come from someone who like old clocks and old things. (I also have a number of very old antique pocket watches.)

But these clocks have spoken into my spiritual life. The mechanical clocks need winding every day, and my three large, mantle chiming ones every eight days. Even our modern battery clocks eventually stop working as the batteries run out, while our still newer ‘movement energised watches’ will stop if not moved.

These clocks have given me four lessons.


Time is running out

Firstly, my clocks remind me that just as their springs run down, so time is running down, time is running out, running out for this world, running out for men and women hear the gospel message and turn to Jesus, running out for turning to Jesus, repenting of sin and being saved, from God’s coming judgement on it. That day of judgement at our saviour’s return, draws ever closer; as the Bible says.

His return is ‘nearer now than ever before’, and it begs the question: Are we ready? Are we so in tune with Jesus that his coming will not take us by surprise? Have we got our lives firmly in Jesus’ hands through faith, and are we secure in his love? Is the lamp of our life and our faith trimmed and full of the oil of God’s grace and mercy, which lights the way to Jesus for all the world to see? (Matthew 25: 1-13, The Wise and Foolish Virgins) Are we seizing each and every day for Jesus? (‘Carpe Diem’, ‘Seize the day’, or better still, 'enjoy the day, pluck the day when it is ripe'.) Are we seizing every hour to serve him, he that loved us and gave his life for us on the cross of Calvary? Are we seizing every moment to witness for Jesus in word and deed, even praying for those moments to come and not to be missed? Time is running out and each minute, each moment, is a precious gift from Jesus. The signs of the end of age are so evident today as Jesus made clear they would be.


A regular check up

Secondly, mechanical clocks need regular servicing and regulating; if they keep stopping, or go too fast, or to slow, they are of little use. We must not let the clock of our spiritual lives stop working properly; we need to give ourselves a spiritual check-up, on a regular basis.

I was once given a ‘word of knowledge’ from the Lord, passed on to me by a dear Christian friend. The Lord was saying, via a picture given, that I could be seen walking behind Jesus and then walking in front of him. The meaning seemed to be that the Lord wanting me alongside him, never lagging behind in my walk with him and never rushing ahead. Are we walking with Jesus faithfully, or perhaps lagging behind, or even rushing off ahead in some project, which he may not even have called us to do? It does happen. I know! Judgement day will reveal all as our lives are assessed and rewards given out or lost. But for the believer, ours is a judgement to life.

It is vitally important that we keep our spiritual lives in order; all sin must be repented of and turned away from. Holiness must be our constant aim, along with purity of action and thought. This will always bring us the fullest of spiritual blessing in our lives, and, will mean the cup of our life will be constantly running, running over, producing the fullness of inner peace and joy, no matter what we may have to face each day in this trouble world.

One day time will no longer exist

Thirdly, one day all clocks will no longer be required and time will no longer exist. We live in the ‘latter days’; we are perhaps at the 11th hour, perhaps even just one minute to midnight in God’s deadline of the end of time. While we wait for that great moment of the rapture of the church from this earth; as we see violence increasing, earthquakes and famines all around us, wars and rumour of wars in the news; let us remember we are a chosen people, those set apart to populate the new heaven and the new earth! Amen!

Clock4 500

The key to spiritual success

Fourthly, and lastly, many of the old style clocks, especially chiming mantle clocks, are very sensitive and need properly balancing - levelling to keep them working.
One old trick is to put the clocks key under one side to balance it, and this does work. I know as two of mine will only work this way. The key to spiritual success is the key of faith, the key of constant trust in God. The very thing that the Bible says pleases God most, is faith! It’s what our Christian calling and journey is all about; it is about coming to, and maintaining to the end, our faith.

“No one can please God without faith, for whoever comes to God must have faith…” Hebrews 11:6, and “Hebrews 11: 1 reminds us that, “...it was by their faith that the people of ancient days won God’s approval.” 

Our calling is to have faith in all situations, and maintain it to the end of life’s journey when we will see Jesus and not need it anymore. It brings its reward! Don’t give up! Press on! “We are of his (God’s) house if we keep up our courage and confidence in what we hope for.” (Hebrews 3:6)
As for those new type watches that need no batteries and do not wind up; they are kept active by daily movement. Let’s make sure we are active for Jesus, constantly on the move in our service for him. As the Bible says:

“So let us not become tired of doing good; for if we do not give up, the time will come when we will reap the harvest.” 

I recently saw an advert for a new wrist watch that keeps going by exposure to light, which is not totally a new thing. It reminds me of what the apostle John wrote in his first letter, “If we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:7.)

Let us keep walking each day in God’s pure light of truth, so that we have continued good fellowship with him, and each other. Let’s keep the clocks of our lives fully serviced; regularly checked out. Ask ourselves the important questions like when did we last pray or read our Bibles? When did we last witness for Jesus? Are we on fire for the kingdom of God? Is our zeal for Jesus as strong and vibrant as it once was? Jesus waits not to condemn, but to forgive; he waits to empower us again through his Spirit, to renew and refresh us in his love and draw us every closer to his side.

We can learn a lot from clocks, especially these old style ones I have collected, but let’s remember we are a people of a kingdom where there is no time. One day clocks will not be needed anymore. We will be at rest in Jesus and serving him in his timeless eternity!

Carpe Diem! Seize the Day!  Maranatha ‘The Lord comes!



Don Attenborough is a Baptist minister 

His three-part series Preparing our Hearts for Revival can be downloaded as a PDF


Baptist Times, 04/01/2017
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