Yesterday I went downtown to do an errand. While there I wandered down a street I was not too familiar with and discovered a tiny shop run by an old world clock maker. I have a mantle clock which belonged to my parents. It hasn't worked for years—a spring had sprung on the mechanism that makes the Westminster Chimes work. I had taken it in to a local watch repair place in the town I was then living. The gentleman there told me it couldn't be fixed—at least not by him or anyone else in town—so I allowed him to take out the mechanism and install a battery-powered unit. But I kept the innards of the original clock.

When I went into the shop yesterday (in a new town) I was amazed at all the beautiful mantle clocks, grandfather and grandmother clocks on the premises. The clock maker asked how he could help. I told him my story (the grimace on his face when I mentioned I had had the mechanism removed and replaced by a battery told me a lot!) and asked if he could put the clock back together. He said that if I had all the pieces he certainly could do that. I am much relieved because the sound of the anemic battery-powered chimes is nothing like the deep, rich sounds of the original.

The old clock may sound again. The same is not true of people. Once gone, we are gone. No one will replace the bits and pieces that the medical profession has shored up with the original, healthy parts and make us new and young again. One day God will give us new bodies, but not today. The old ones just fall apart until the demise of something vital ends the process.

With this journey in mind, Solomon ends the book of Ecclesiastes with this statement: "Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come..." (Ecclesiastes 12:1). I guess the summary of the lesson would be: Give all you've got to the Lord while you still have everything to give!

The bulk of the rest of the chapter describes Solomon in his declining years when the body is frail and the end is near and he looks back in review of what he has done with his life.

"Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it" (12:6, 7).

That old mantle clock can be restored to work again as it was originally designed. But this old "tent" that I inhabit, as Paul describes it, (2 Corinthians 5:1) will not be restored in time to make much more difference here on earth that it, in its increasing frailty, can make now. It is a little less active and a little more sedentary. I need younger legs!

Solomon's plea is for young people, still with strength of body and sharpness of mind, to offer those gifts in service to God.

It isn't that those of us who are a little older are unable or unwilling. Our roles become different with the passage of time and the physical and mental changes we embrace. But someone has to step into the gap to fill the roles that we once had.

Like us, everyone who is young today will be old tomorrow. We all want to look back without regret and say like Paul: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:7).

Solomon's words are important: Remember the Lord NOW with enthusiasm, rather than later with regret.


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