Yesterday my daughter, who lives in Maryland, found in a desk drawer an old stopwatch that once belonged to me. How she came in possession of the stopwatch, that is about 50 years old, neither of us have any idea. She took a picture of it and sent it to me. As I stared at the picture a flood of images raced through my mind. There are many lessons contained within my antique stopwatch, four of which I will seek to share.
First, the stopwatch reminds me of a time in my life filled with many wonderful memories. I began running in 1965 at age thirteen and purchased the watch soon afterwards. This was in a day long before digital watches and the Ironman Timex watch I wear now. The stopwatch was used to time my training runs all through high school and my father used it to time my races. The watch represents many wonderful memories I was privileged to experience. I remember gazing at it in disbelief after running a 440 on a dirt track and it had stopped at 51-flat. As a miler and two miler, I remember looking at my times after I ran and won conference, sectional, and regional championships. I remember excitedly staring at it the first time I set my high school records for the mile and two mile races and then later conference, sectional and regional records. I remember looking at it after each time running my anchor leg on the 4×440 relay checking to see what my split and team time was. Ah, those are some wonderful memories. I am most thankful for having lived them. Seeing that stopwatch allowed me to relive them.
Thank the Lord for wonderful memories. Good memories can transport us back to revisit the good times and events of our lives. While we all have memories we wish we could erase, let us be thankful for the good memories that we have experienced over the years. Revisiting them keep us going, make us smile and laugh, they give us hope, they make us thankful to the Lord, and instill in us a longing to live in such a way that we experience more good memories than bad ones.
Second, the stopwatch reminds me that the foundation of success is hard work. That stopwatch timed many, many miles of training. It ticked on and on and on during my training runs when it was cold, when it was hot, when it rained, when it snowed. It worked as hard as I did. The watch reminds me that the foundation that resulted in all my fast times, wins, records, accolades and my earning a track college scholarship was laid with hard work. I was raised in the day before the entitlement mentality permeated society. Nothing was given to me because I thought I deserved it. “Blood, Sweat and Tears” was more than a rock group I used to listen to, but it was the way I trained. Any awards I achieved were the result of committed, disciplined and hard work. I still believe that is true, if you want something, work for it. Don’t expect someone to give you something just because you think you deserve it. The foundation of success is hard work and always will be. So you want it, be committed and go after it.
Third, the stopwatch reminds me that time stands still for no one. A lot of time has ticked away since I lasted used that stopwatch. Some forty years have passed since I probably last used it. Time has marched on like a swiftly flowing river. I have been married for 40 years, have earned three degrees, had kids, pastored five years, preached hundreds of sermons, conducted hundreds of funerals and weddings, coached hundreds of runners, written six books, battled cancer, and the list goes on. Time stands still for no one.
What are we doing with our time? Time quickly vanishes like a candle flame in a winter wind. We are here today and gone tomorrow. Are we using our life productively and positively to touch the lives of others or are we living selfishly. Are we seeking to be an influence on others that will encourage them to become a better person and strive for things impossible? Someday we will have to give an account to the Lord for the life we lived and I so desire to live a life that will impact others for Him and help others to discover the purpose for which the Good Lord created them. Get busy being a useful vessel, for time stands still for no person.
Fourth, the stopwatch reminds me that time eventually stops for us all. The stopwatch has a wind-up stem and had to be rewound to keep working. The picture shows the watch has wound down and has stopped at 6:46.1. It has quit ticking.
No matter who we are, our time will eventually run out. Sooner or later we will stop ticking. George Bernard Shaw once said, “One out of one die.” The Bible says, “It is appointed unto man once to die, after that the judgment” (Heb. 9:27). No one will escape that appointment. The stopwatch reminds me that I need to be living a faithful life for my Lord because I am not guaranteed tomorrow. When my time runs out I want to be prepared to meet Him. Thankfully, many, many years ago I bowed my knee before the Christ of the Cross and received His perfect righteousness in place of my own filthy righteousness. I am ready for that Day, not because of who I am but because of who HE is.
While the stopwatch is running make preparation for that Day when the ticking will stop. Until then be about the business of living a life that is making good memories and influencing and impacting others.