THERE IS something in the DNA of men that draws them to gadgets. Whatever it is, I fall into that category of men that salivate at electronics stores, gadget catalogs, and computer magazines. However, unlike those men, I will not buy every new doodad that comes my way—I have my standards! First, the gadget needs to be useful. I personally have no need for an automatic toe hair trimmer (although my wife may disagree). Second, the gadget must be reliable. I don’t like to be a guinea pig while the manufacturer works out the kinks in a new product line. And third, it needs to be cool. For instance, a can opener is not cool; but an authentic Starwars Stormtrooper armor equipped with a life-size blaster and a voice modulator that also functions as a can opener is most definitely cool (and useful too—a point that I have made repeatedly to my wife without success).
Anyway, recently I’ve been contemplating this question—of all the gadgets that I own, which one is my favorite? After much internal debate and angst, I have decided that of all my “toys” (that’s what my wife calls them), my watch is my favorite gadget. Now, some may think that a watch seems too mundane an object to get excited about—it’s like saying that one’s favorite food is toast. But please bare with me and let me explain exactly why I think this timepiece is so amazing…
When I consider the requirements of a watch, there are several functions that are essential to me: 1) it has to tell time, 2) it has to continue to tell time accurately, and 3) it needs to tell time when I look at it. That’s it! The watch doesn’t need a fancy calculator, alarm clock, remote control, or electron beam microscope! All it has to do is tell time! But for some reason, most of the watches that I’ve owned have had difficulty maintaining this simple requirement. My last watch in particular was a worthless piece of junk. Towards the end of its life, it kept getting slower by one minute every day. After a week of use, I was ready to throw it in the trash, run it over with a large SUV, or use it for target practice—anything, in fact, that didn’t require me having to wear it and use it. Now that I think about it, the only benefit this watch provided was a perpetual excuse for why I was always late to meetings.
Eventually, my frustration drove me to search for an extremely accurate watch. I didn’t simply want a moderately accurate watch. I wanted one that would be so accurate that it would be the standard by which all other watches were judged! For instance, if someone came up to me and asked, “Do you know what time it is?” I would confidently reply, “The time is precisely 10:33 and 26 seconds…. right… NOW!”
That’s when I learned about an amazing invention called the atomic watch. For those of you unfamiliar with the intricacies of an atomic watch, the word “atomic” does not imply that the watch is radioactive, has a nuclear reactor, or is in danger of causing a catastrophic explosion. The word “atomic” simply means this: once a day, this watch synchronizes to a radio signal beamed from the Cesium atomic clock located in Boulder, Colorado (this amazing machine neither gains or loses one second in a million years). During this synchronization process, which occurs once a day at midnight, my watch adjusts its internal time to match the time of this broadcasted shortwave signal. In this way, my watch is never off by more than one second each day. During the rest of the day, my watch is running on its own internal timing. If, for some reason, my watch was not able to synchronize with this atomic clock in Colorado, then—like all traditional watches—the accuracy of my watch would slowly decline as each day passed. The only reason my watch remains extremely accurate is simply because of this daily synchronization process. Indeed, over my five years of ownership, I have never set the time (it even automatically adjusts for daylight savings) or programmed the date (it automatically adjusts for leap years too). And because this particular watch that I own is solar powered, I don’t even have to change the batteries! In fact, I rarely ever have to turn a dial, push a button, or perform a setting. I just have to remember to put it on my wrist each morning!
The only downside to having such an accurate timepiece is this—I no longer have a legitimate excuse for being late to my meetings.
The Spiritual Analogy
The spiritual analogy here is not subtle. In fact, it’s so obvious that I can probably just leave this section blank. But, for the sake of clarity, here’ goes… We all have our own “spiritual timepieces.” And unless we synchronize with the Master Clock by carefully considering and meditating on God’s holy Word, our spiritual lives will slowly veer off course from that exact standard. But the problem is actually worse than that! In this world there are many standards that compete with God’s “atomic time.” And if we do not synchronize with God, we end up synchronizing with those other things instead. The consequence, however, is much sadder than being late to a meeting—we rob ourselves of a life of “good fruit” (John 15). Thankfully, Jesus helps us to synchronize with the Master Clock.