CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN NETWORK
Continuing the work of Jesus : Peacefully ~ Simply ~ Together
THE CLOCK PEDDLER
Each time piece shone with brilliance as the morning sun bathed the store front display window of the tiny clock shop. The peddler began every day with last minute adjustments to each clock in his window display case, to make sure that each one had the same time, plus one final wipe of a cloth to insure a starburst reflection into the eyes of prospective customers. He did a very good business for the early 1950’s, perhaps due to his very pleasant attitude and caring personality, not to mention the wide variety of time pieces that were available: wall, mantle, watch pocket, alarm, wrist, and grandfather. Many years had taught him that dedication to the customer was the most important thing to be offered. He was good at fixing the various mechanisms, and it’s usually easy to be helpful to people when you really know what you’re doing.
Except for Silent Man, that’s what he called the man who stopped by the shop every morning to adjust his pocket watch by the clocks in the front store window. He never bought or said anything, only just stopping long enough to adjust his pocket watch and move on. The peddler didn’t think of himself as being overly conscious of money, but it did sort of irritate him that Silent Man never bought anything, nor did he bring in anything to be fixed. The peddler felt that he was being used and discarded. However, with an extra amount of patience, he tried to be mature enough not to show his moderate resentment.
“Some people are just like that, I guess,” the peddler thought to himself, “You’re only good enough for them to take what they want from you.” Repressing his displeasure and trying to force a positive attitude: “This morning I’m going to say something to Silent Man,” remembering that a successful businessman must accept people for what they are. “Perhaps, maybe he’ll buy something today, or at a later time. He’s a sharp dresser, so I know he has money to spend.” Right on time, about a quarter till nine o’clock, Silent Man came briskly walking up the sidewalk and the peddler quickly went to the open front door. Taking out his pocket watch, Silent Man carefully adjusted his elegant looking time piece as he looked intently at the large mantle clock which seemed to be the centerpiece of the display window. Guarding himself against speaking intemperately, the peddler exclaimed: “Good morning,” to which Silent Man kindly responded with the same. Following a prolonged and awkward pause, he said to the peddler: “Do these clocks have the correct time.” “Yes they do,” retorted the peddler, “I set that middle clock every noon when the steam whistle blows on the factory across the street!” Taken a bit off guard and with amazement in his eyes, Silent Man began to smile and confessed: “I’m the man who pulls the chain on that whistle every day at noon. There are so many people in town who depend on me for the correct time, that’s why I stop here each morning. To make sure that I do have it, because I trust that of all people, you would most certainly have the correct time!”
The peddler thought that he was being taken advantage of and unappreciated, only to realize that all over town, people were indirectly setting their clocks by his standard. Many times in life, as the peddler, we also feel that people use and discard our talents and intentions. We try to maintain a positive face, but deep down inside, it hurts to know that our best efforts remain unnoticed and unappreciated. The small child inside of us exclaims: “I’m important! Won’t someone acknowledge me for what I do?” Ignoring this small voice only seems to make it worse.
Not only is the Lord aware of our life contributions, but so are many others, and it may surprise us to know just how many people and to what extent. At those times when we feel discounted and ignored, just remember that God cares about each one of us, and has promised that our eternal reward, for even very small acts of kindness, awaits us on that final day. This should give us comfort and the proper motivation to reflect the best Christian witness that we can. Paul’s admonition to the church at Colossae, also reminds us that we are to be “redeeming the time” or wisely utilizing each moment to glorify Jesus Christ, and further the advancement of His kingdom on earth.