Why My Watch Stopped
On September 6, 2015, at 1:02:13 PM, my watch stopped. I was unloading groceries from the bags I had just bought at Westside and looked down to see that my little, leather Timex watch had stopped. My first reaction was annoyance. Why would it stop now? The semester was about to begin and I needed my watch to get through classes, so why did it decide today was the day to give up? My second reaction was sadness. I really liked that watch, and I thought it looked good on my wrist. What would I do without it? Should I just throw it away? Going through my first day of classes was difficult- not knowing the time, or how long until I could leave, was dreadful. Something as trivial as the loss of my watch showed me how obsessed I am with time and ultimately, how focused I am on the limited earthly world that I live in.
As a History major, I love to analyze the past and look at the way it has impacted the present. There has always been a part of me that wishes I could leave the present to step back into a place before now. As my American History professor became emotional during our last class of the semester, I looked down at my broken watch. That morning I had put it on as a way to cover my still fading tanline, and when I looked at it I noticed the time. I thought about the girl who owned that watch when it stopped, and I wished I could go back to warn her. I wished I could tell her of the pain that was coming, and the heartache she would experience over the coming months. I wished I could tell her not to make certain choices: to put more effort into some relationships, and to accept the ending of others. But then and now, I am bound by the limits of my humanity. I can only experience this world as a linear progression of mistakes and heartache placed in time.
We live in a limited world bound by time, but the God that we worship is limitless. In our temporal world we try to place limits on God and His infinity in order to better understand Him. We talk about eternity as if it is in the future rather than the present. We place God in a box in our lives, allocating certain times of the day to pray or give ourselves a few places to worship, ignoring the fact that God is present in everything. Though we go through life to reach eternity, He is already there and always has been there. We can view God’s infinity by looking at the way He is omnipotent, omnipresent, and beyond our understanding.
God’s omnipotence extends throughout our lives, and throughout all of creation. His all encompassing power allows us to be free in life, resting on His infinite strength to carry us through. Christ tells us that, “With men all things are impossible, but with God all things are possible.” 1 Knowing that He is the ultimate Power allows us to relinquish the control of our lives. We are not able to determine the circumstances of our lives, nor are we able to determine the events that happen within our world. As much as we try to regulate our time, from making schedules to writing up study guides, there is no way that we will be able to absolutely determine the direction of our lives. But God can.
Just as He is omnipotent, God is also omnipresent. He is not bound by the limits of time or space that we are confined to in the physical world. Psalm 113 paints His boundlessness in our world: “The LORD is high above all nations, His glory above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God. Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth?” 2 No matter where we go or what we do, God is there. The Psalmist shows us the way in which God is elevated above the earth, but has also lowered Himself to our level on earth. Christ literally personifies Psalm 113, as God became man and lived with us. Coming to earth, He showed His presence with us at the same time as His presence in heaven. Continuing His omnipresence, while He is present in all space–-unlimited by our temporal world–He is also present throughout all time. He is present throughout all the earth; from creation to the present, He is there. Even before the creation of time He was there, and after our world has been long gone, He will still be there. “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.” 3 With “Amazing Grace” John Newton formulates God’s omnipotence throughout time into verse: “When we’ve been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we’d first begun.” 4
The all encompassing power and presence that God yields is so great that, for us it is actually incomprehensible. The limits of our world make us unable to understand the infinity of Him. Psalm 147 proclaims, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure.” 5
He is forever, and that is the greatest comfort I could ask for. God’s infinity is as amazing, as it is incomprehensible. The fact that He is completely above all limits is both wonderful and frightening. Like the shepherds of Bethlehem, I have to be told not to fear in the face of His glory, but rather see His beautiful, omnipotent, omnipresent, incomprehensible being. Contemplating His infinity throughout this Christmas season, my mind traces back to one idea: God stepped out of His infinity to become flesh. The God of the universe, the Creator of all things, and the One in which all things are found, chose to come down on human terms and live in our present. 20th century Christian theologian and writer A.W. Tozer sums up the awesome of God’s infinity in Christmas writing: “The most wonderful thing of all is that a God like that, a God before whom angels veil their faces, a God whose presence is heaven and whose absence is hell, that that, infinite, absolute, boundless, omnipotent, eternal omniscience God should come down and walk around in the form of a baby.” 6
Why did my watch stop? Well, that’s simple. My watch stopped because the knob on the side broke off. If I had wanted to, I could have gotten it repaired, but I was lazy. My watch didn’t stop at some perfect time or have some greater meaning; it broke by accident. I can’t go back to September 6th, but God is there. I can’t warn future Pauline, but God is there. His infinity is incomprehensible to me, and that is what makes Christmas all the more beautiful. God is just as present at the birth of His son as He is in my pain today. He loves me today as much as He loved my grandparents, and as much as He will love my children; His birth, death, and resurrection are eternal, and so is His grace. In that, I can rest in the assurance that He is my all in all.