Pocket watch Theology – by Heather Lidwell

Posted: April 8, 2013 in Heather Lidwell, Kingdom


Todays blog is from Heather Lidwell. For more from Heather check out gracepluszero.com

The man stood in front of the children and pulled out a long, gleaming, golden chain. Attached to the end of it was a thick, round pocketwatch engraved with a black railroad engine. He grinned big as the children looked it. One boy, in particular, reached out to grab it. The grubby, 5-year-old fingers ran almost reverently across its surface as the man asked, “Do you all know what this is?”

The boy nodded enthusiastically, and one cried out, “It’s a pocketwatch!”

“Yes, it is!” he affirmed. He turned the pocketwatch over and said, “Right here, it reads the words, ‘World’s Greatest Dad.’ Guess whose watch this is? It’s mine!”

The kids grinned, and a few chuckles popped up like the beginning of popcorn from the crowd that had gathered on Sunday. Each week, right after the choir sang, the kids all gathered around while someone from the congregation, usually someone in children’s ministry, told the children a story or taught them a lesson in front of everyone. Every Sunday, without fail, one of those kids would say something off-the-wall, touching in its innocence, or mesmerize all the folks with wisdom beyond their years. It had become a favorite of everyone, the short 15 minutes it took to show us all how the kids were growing up in the Lord.

“I want to tell you a story about this watch. When I first got it, it was the best gift ever. I wore it every day. I wore it to work. I wore it to church. I wore it to special events. Everywhere I went, the watch went. Then, I started getting worried something might happen to it, or that it wouldn’t look as nice if I took it everywhere. I didn’t want to wear it out, so I decide I would just take it out and wear it on Sundays and on special occasions. So I put it up on the shelf and only wore it to church on Sunday morning and to family reunions, things like that.”

The kids nodded. They didn’t really know where he was going with this, but I did. I felt the pit of my stomach sink, because I knew this story all too well. I knew what conclusion he was going to draw, how wonderful he would think it was going to be, and what an impact it would make on the children. My throat tightened, and I looked down as he continued.

“Have you ever had a toy you really loved, and then just kind of stopped playing with it as new toys came along? Well, that’s kind of what happened to this watch. It got too hard to remember to take it out on Sundays and special events, so I decided only really to take it out for Christmas and Easter. I decided it would keep looking really well if I only took it out those few times a year.  It would keeping it look brand new, even years later.”

He then raised it up, gave it a shake, and held it up to his ear and shrugged, “But guess what?” He asked.

The kids all asked. “What?”

“Can anyone tell me what’s wrong with this watch?”

He held it out for them all to see, and one by one, they listened for a sound that never clicked. A moving hand that never moved. A spinning wheel that never spun.

“It don’t work!” one girl said and shook her head.

“No, it sure doesn’t,” he said gravely. “It was a prized possession, but because I neglected it… that means, I didn’t take it out when I was supposed to, I didn’t check on it every day, didn’t polish it, didn’t watch after it, didn’t care for it… well, it stopped working on me. I could hardly even find it to bring it to show you all.”

And, of course, that’s when he said what I’m sure those children will remember forever.

That’s how Jesus is.”

One little boy turned his head. A tear welled up in my eye and slid down my cheek as I endured again in silent frustration and anger as my Savior and King was described in the most hopeless, worst way possible to eager ears and young hearts for whom He is fighting, whom He has spilled His blood, who He longs to save and love, rule and reign with, protect and dwell within.

The man nodded sadly, “That’s just how Jesus is. You accept Him into your hearts, but then you just go about your life, and you forget. You don’t read your Bible, you forget to come to church. You don’t pray like you should to Him. Then, one day, when you really want Him, when you really need Him, you won’t hear Him. He’ll be silent, because it won’t work for you anymore. Just like this watch.”

He put it in his pocket and then pointed a finger, admonishing them.

“You may not even be able to find Him. You’ll look everywhere, but He won’t be where you left Him. Don’t let that happen to you.”

And then it was quiet, as many of the “righteous” nodded their sanctimonious heads in agreement.

Those same fears were instilled deeply into me when I grew up believing in this kind of “relationship” with God. It took so long, with so many years of humbling, of learning about His unfailing love and mercy, of His abiding grace, to learn the truth about my Savior. Still, it is all I can do sometimes to sit back and listen while this kind of unbelief and fear is perpetuated in our children. In grown-up children too, sitting in the pews still, after all these years, searching for their pocketwatch.

I wonder what will happen when young Bobby is hooked on crack one day, and, sitting on the toilet, with a needle shaking in his hand, getting ready to put it in his vein, he cries out in desperation, “Oh, Jesus, please help me!” as he searches for his pocketwatch.

I wonder what will happen when Gayle sobs when she sees the little double line appear, confirming her worst fears that she’s pregnant. She puts her hand on her still-smooth, young belly, and wonders if, just fingerbreadths above the little baby growing in her uterus, if her pocketwatch is still there in her heart, when she accepted Him so long ago?

I wonder what will happen when Darren lays wide-eyed, in bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to reconcile whether or not a pocketwatch even exists, this idea competing with all the worldviews he’s learning in college. Who to trust in. What to believe. I wonder if he will even go looking for something that must be maintained every day to be real.

The day will come all too soon when there will no longer be men in suits with broken pocketwatches, ladies in flowery dresses giving admonitions, and concerned members of the local church to turn to with their theology. The day will come when each of these children will need to listen for the voice of the Lord. The ticking of the watch. The hand of the King.

And I wonder how the King feels about being described in such terms, having given His life’s blood to pay the price so that they might hear Him in their darkest hour. I can only imagine. If someone ever told my sons or daughters that “Mommy loves you now, but if you forget to call her for awhile, or if you forget to do nice things for her, or if you get wrapped up in your life, and you don’t come to her birthday parties, forget it, kiddo. No more mom for you. She just won’t pick up that phone when you call if you really need her,” I would be filled with so much rage and hurt that I’m not sure I’d be able to respond in a godly way.

Because of this root of fear, I had at one time forgotten about important scriptures such as these, when it was my moment to seek. “If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me,” He says again, “If you seek me, you will find me.” “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him,” “The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who seek God.” “You, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.” “Blessed are they who … seek him with all their heart.” “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” “Seek and you will find.” “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” “He rewards those who earnestly seek him.”

Thankfully, when I cried out to Him, when I looked for my pocketwatch, I heard it ticking loud and clear. Full of life. Full of safety, assurance, love, reception, and reconciliation that would have been denied me, had I believed the “pocketwatch dogma.” I thank my Savior, who is Christ Jesus, who is able to save children even such as myself from the legalistic lies that are taught to them that might keep them in bondage. Whatever you might ascribe to my King, please do not forget that He is real and will demonstrate in the power of the Holy Spirit His reality, majesty, and Lordship over what is His. Be sure your theology and what you teach others is in agreement with that. It is an awful thing to be on the wrong side in the matter of reconciliation of Jesus and who the Father has given to Him to hold in His hand. This is His kingdom. The pocketwatch does not stop.


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