The clock ticks away the seconds. I lean back in my easy chair and listen as the pendulum swings.
Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick…
The speed of the mechanical noise is quite fast. And hypnotic. Before I know it, three minutes have passed. But, as I sit, another sound catches my ear, running almost concurrently with the ticking of the old mantel clock in the room where I’m lounging.
I listen to the newly perceived sound, recognizing that it is actually running a bit slower than the one which lulled me into inactivity a few minutes ago. It is the sound of the old kitchen clock out in the dining room.
That’s funny. That clock ticks more slowly than the mantel clock, but it runs faster. That doesn’t make sense at all. In addition to that, I habitually move the hands of the mantel clock forward by almost half an hour a day. It’s the only way it will ever be close to telling the true time whenever I glance at the hands.
I never trust the tale it tells.
I continue to listen. Slowly and steadily, the sound from both clocks falls on my ear drums. It’s still a mystery. The ancient clock in the dining room actually seems to be going more slowly, if I go by the sound. But, I know that it keeps proper time. Week after week, month after month, year after year, I can look at the time indicated on that clock and set all the other clocks in the house by it.
It is a timepiece worthy of my trust.
I wind the trustworthy clock no more than once a week. Every seven days, twenty-one twists of the key–twenty-one, no more, no less–and it is prepared to run for the week.
The clock on the mantel? I must wind it every three or four days. Never the same number of revolutions. Never. Still, if I don’t wind it, it will stop. But when I do wind it, it runs at the wrong speed.
The question comes to mind.
Which clock do I like better?
Well? Which one do you suppose?
Another question immediately arises in my thoughts.
Why do I even keep that troublesome old clock around?
It certainly takes more effort to keep it going. I have to fiddle with it every day.
And still, I can’t trust it. At any given time, the errant timepiece could be off by two or even twenty-two minutes.
I can’t trust it.
I haven’t answered either question, have I?
I’ll tackle the second one first. I keep the clock around because I think it just might, one day, run at the correct speed. I have done everything I know to insure that, but in the dark recesses of my mind, I remember someone saying if you keep moving the hands of a slow clock ahead, eventually it will run faster. I don’t know if that’s true or not (and I hope no one is foolish enough to check the Internet and tell me it isn’t). I’m not sure I even care if it’s true or not anymore. I’m just going to keep trying.
Which brings me to my first question.
You will probably be surprised to find I don’t like either one better than the other. One keeps good time, the other one doesn’t. It doesn’t matter. I’m going to care for both of them.
I can’t imagine ever getting rid of either one. The one that keeps good time is a joy and a blessing. The one that can’t be trusted needs me. I think possibly I need it.
Somehow–I can’t quite put my finger on it–I feel a sort of kinship to that messed up old clock.
I wonder if there is any point in writing more tonight.
Tears come as the truth I couldn’t quite put my finger on a moment ago becomes evident. (I don’t only write for the benefit of my readers, you know.) Memories of an ill-mannered child, a rude teenager, even an arrogant young man–all the same person–spill into my consciousness. Deeds I will not recount in public are played out on the stage in my head, and the shame is overwhelming.
I can’t be trusted.
Still, the Master of the house keeps me in full view. Daily–hourly–yes, even moment by moment, He has to fiddle and make adjustments. He keeps me.
I get to stay.
Someday, I hope the old clock will function as it should. I’m not giving up on it.
He won’t give up on us either.
We get to stay.
“(Love) always protects, always hopes, always trusts, always perseveres.”
(I Corinthians 13:7 ~ NIV)
“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.”
(from “The Fellowship of the Ring” ~ J.R.R. Tolkien ~ British author/professor ~ 1892-1973