The Smoky Black Clock

Thursday, January 26, 2023
Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross"1 (Lyrics)

Scrubbing the gingerbread clock was no easy task for me. It was completely blackened with smoke deposited over many seasons of woodburning. For years, that clock had sat on a shanty floor behind a cabinet — all but forgotten.

Imagine being that clock and experiencing yourself to be forgotten and deteriorating. Elderly folk may know that feeling. Young folk may sense that happening to their skills and potential. Life's trials can cause us to feel unappealing and pushed aside. The psalmist surely felt like that when, in anguish, he wrote,

Psalm 119:83a – I am like a wineskin in the smoke. (NIV)

Wineskins were used to store liquids or solid items. These containers were sometimes left to hang. Over time, the outside skin would become withered and blackened by the smoke from cooking fires. Meanwhile, the precious contents stayed safe, retaining their purpose and usefulness.

A believer's life is like that:

2 Corinthians 4:16b – Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. (NIV)

Unless we grasp this truth, we'll be preoccupied with the outward while neglecting the inner being. Inner deprivation weakens our ability to endure trials. Psalm 119 reveals the solution. The psalmist constantly renewed his inward being — as in these examples:

  • Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees. (verse 83 NIV)
  • If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. (verse 92 NIV)
  • The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes. (verse 95 NIV)

These verses nudge me beyond my bland view of God's "decrees", "laws", "statutes", and similar terms. The psalmist never could have endured trials if these words meant little more than a written code for human behaviour. No, this is about God, God's behaviour, God's ways, His ordering of the universe, His timeless promises, His redemptive purposes. It's also about God's tender touch on us, His kiss, His delight in us.

Like the psalmist, that gives me a lot to "ponder", "remember", and "delight in". Such a habit will surely help to renew me inwardly and preserve me for God's purposes.

Back to the old clock. When I scrubbed away the soot from the glass door, I noticed that the inside works were well preserved. With the touch of a master repairman, this clock can again fulfill its purpose: to exude its soothing sounds and help people order their daily lives.

Do you inwardly long for the Father's masterful renewing touch? Then, consider this personal prayer request, drawn from Ephesians 1 and 3.

Prayer: My God and Father, enlighten me inwardly with Your wisdom and revelation. Strengthen my heart's capacity to know You, to grasp the magnitude of Your love, and to fathom the enormous power which You exerted in raising Christ and seating Him in the heavenly realms, above all other powers and authorities. I seek You, Father, to fill me with immeasurably more than all that I could ask or imagine. Amen.

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About the author:

Diane Eaton <>
Paisley, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks for the inspiring words, Diane.

    Great post, reminder and prayer, Diane. Thanks and blessings!

    Well done, Diane.

    Very good words to reflect on Diane. Thanks for your thoughtful and very meaningful writing today.

    Amen and amen, Diane. Thank you for sharing this encouraging devotional with us today. Blessings.

    Praise to God, your writing/sharing seems to me perfect in His Holy Spirit wisdom and thanks, thanks, thanks.

    Thank you, Diane, for this encouraging devotional. This line particularly delighted me: It’s also about God’s tender touch on us, His kiss, His delight in us.

    Thank you, Diane. Today’s reading for January 26 is from Marc chapter 4, about the light under the bed. Your devotional completes it for me in my morning prayer.

    Thanks Diane
    Very timely. Wishing you God’s blessings.
    Just so you know, I fix and oil old mantel and grandfather clocks.

    Beautiful analogy. I think my cousin has the family heirloom. A beautiful memory encased in love -forever-like us loved and lover of Christ. Thanks for your thoughtful devotion.

    Good morning, Diane,
    Diane, it is true that only God can see our internal thoughts and workings. He knows all and therefore it is important to work on our inner being. God’s touch can help us improve and feel renewed.
    The neglected clock is a good example of the difference between the outside and the inside. Our outside can be shiny and look great to others and our inside can be quite different in our faith.
    Thanks for sharing your encouragement to remind us how important the inner workings are. Blessings.

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