An Important Point In My Religious History

When I was younger, I had a watch. Not a fancy watch, just your average, run-of-the-mill wristwatch that a kid who didn’t know any better might purchase from a department store for not more than say, twenty dollars. It was comparable to a cheap Swatch knockoff, but nothing like my very favorite watch I ever owned, a low-key G-Shock WaterSport with all sorts of timers and even a legit compass. Either way, I liked the Swatch knockoff, so I was of course ultra-bummed when it stopped one day without warning.

At that particular time, I’d already been exposed to the idea that God can work miracles and directly intervene in our lives. I hadn’t read any of the stories out of the Bible yet, and my parents never took us to church, but I had deduced enough from ordinary observations of adult conversation and popular culture to fully understand the premise. I knew that many people, if not most, believed we could pray and ask God to do things on our behalf, and that if we had faith, those things would be done. So I decided when my watch stopped that I would clear off a nice, clean place on top of my dresser so that God had a pleasant area to work in, and I set it there, much like I would have left cookies and milk for Santa and his Elves.

See, that day when my watch stopped, I made up my mind I was going to get to the bottom of this God stuff once for all. So that night, before I went to bed, I made a simple prayer, along the lines of,

"Lord, if you’re there, I just wanna know you’re real, and if you fix my little sportswatch, that will be all the proof I need in the world, Lord. Amen."

Immediately afterwards I felt like a great burden had been relieved, but I was also extremely anxious to wake up the next morning and see what would become of my rudimentary theological experiment. After all, I was about to settle one of the most sublime questions of existence, and mixed feelings forced themselves upon me accordingly: Would the watch be fixed? Or not? And how would I be sure somebody in my family didn’t trick me, or that maybe God didn’t hear me or perhaps that I prayed incorrectly? I was pretty sure my family had no idea what I was up to, and that my experiment was in fact blind, and I was also fairly confident I’d prayed correctly. I’m absolutely certain if God exists, God heard my prayer. That’s because it was heartfelt, and honesty is the earmark of authentic prayer.

When I woke up next morning, the watch was still stopped, and I’m still not to the bottom of this God stuff.

6 Comments

  1. jim says:

    I liked this story; sometimes kids ask the best questions (I’m assuming you were still a child when you did this). I do my best to retain this frame of mind. Formal apologetics and philosophy can get so convoluted at times, and I’m convinced that, just as often as not, they obscure rather than enlighten.

  2. cl says:

    I liked this story… Formal apologetics and philosophy can get so convoluted at times, and I’m convinced that, just as often as not, they obscure rather than enlighten.

    Well thank you, and very well said. I couldn’t agree more.

  3. James says:

    God was busy deciding all of the outcomes of NFL and NBA games at the time – you know, weighing which team prayed the hardest in the huddle, etc. :)

  4. cl says:

    …busy deciding all of the outcomes of NFL and NBA games…

    LOL. You sure that wasn’t the referees, bookies and stockholders? Seems more in line with pre-existing evidence to me! :)

  5. Zeb says:

    Ha. When I was 13 I did the exact same test after reading in the Gospels where Jesus says something like “Anything you will be given,” and “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed you can move mountains.” The next morning my beloved Timex Ironman was still not working, so I decided my faith must be less than a mustard seed.

  6. cl says:

    Hi Zeb.
    I want to say “small world,” but that’s not exactly right. Although, it’s pretty interesting that we both apparently thought of the same test. I guess “what a coincidence” would be more fitting!
    What I like about your conclusion is that you seem to have assumed operator error, whereas some would be quick to assume negative results were an effective disproof of God’s existence.
    I didn’t really assume anything when I woke up to my watch still broken; I just kind of shrugged my shoulders about it. It didn’t make me an atheist, obviously.

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