I suppose that I am not alone in this, but I am still trying to figure out my relationship with the various electronic devices in my life. My first tablet computer was a used iPad that my sister gave to me when she got a new one. I didn’t think I needed the device. I have plenty of other electronic devices and having to deal with another one wasn’t high on my list of activities. However, as soon as I began to use the device, I saw its usefulness. I could put a dozen book on the small device. When traveling I didn’t need to take the book I was currently reading plus a couple of backups in case I finished that one. I could just carry one relatively small device. I also could put everything I needed to lead worship on the one device. I didn’t need a hymn book plus a bible plus my notes. All could be consolidated into one device. It wasn’t long before I ordered a new one for my personal use. It lives in my backpack and goes with me almost everywhere that I go. I get it out at home in the evening to read books and I have it on my desk at work as I go through my day. I use it to take notes when interviewing couples in preparation for their wedding or families to plan a funeral. It is my “go to” device for many things.

I’m equally addicted to my cell phone. I use it for my alarm clock and it is the first thing I reach for each morning - even before I put on my glasses. I carry it with me nearly every where I go. I use it for a wide variety of different applications from keeping track of my medications to reminding me of my appointments to getting directions to a new address.

Yesterday, however, my daw was remarkably device free. The devotions I led in the morning were based on ideas I had in my head and a single psalm, so I slipped a small bible into my pocket and left the devices in the car for that event. Then I went to the church where the funeral I was leading had a lot of other speakers, so I tucked my hand-written notes and a funeral program into my bible and led the service while my electronic devices remained in my office.

At the end of the day, I didn’t have a bunch of phone messages waiting for me. I had received only a couple of text messages to which I could easily respond. I put off dealing with my email until later this morning. No disaster fell upon my because I spent most of the day unplugged from my devices. No problems cropped up. It is a good lesson for me. These devices are tools and using tools can make the chores of this life easier. But they are only tools. They don’t need to dictate my life to me. Setting them aside from time to time is a valuable exercise for me.

I’ve been thinking about tools quite a bit lately. I was only five or six years old when my father built me a small tool bench and equipped it with real tools for me to use. I had my own screw driver, hammer, crosscut saw, pliers, a bench vice and a few other basic tools. He then proceeded to teach me how to make my own tool box to store the tools. That started a life-long adventure of collect tools. When I am doing a job and I don’t have just the right tool for that job, I am quite likely to head for the hardware store to buy a tool. I have duplicates of many tools, with a toolbox in my pickup and another in my home. I have a few tools in each car that I drive and several different tool belts and bags that can be carried to job sites. With the advent of reliable rechargeable batteries I have dozens of tools that I own both in corded and cordless versions. My garage is brimming with tools. Each time I’ve moved from one home to another, tools have been a priority for the move.

So I have spent my life collecting tools, but there comes a point where one needs to stop collecting. I have a toolbox in my garage that is filled with various wood planes and chisels that belonged to my father and grandfather and now see only very occasional use. I have the tool belt that my father in law used when he went out to make electrical repairs. I own enough c clamps to hold the gunwales on both sides of a 16’ canoe at the same time. C clamps are a bit of a joke among boat builders who generally say, “you can never own too many c clamps.” I have a bucket full of them and another with spring clamps. I have duplicates of some tools because when I am working on a long boat in my garage it is a challenge to get from one side to the other, so I have a set of basic tools for each side of the boat. I own enough tape measures that I never have to go far to tine one.

Fortunately, my son is at a phase of collecting tools to maintain his home and occasionally I have just the right tool with me when I’m visiting him that I can give it to him. This summer he asked if I had a couple of extra cam straps. I travel with a host of them. It was fun to have just what he needed. But he lives 1200 miles from our home and not all of my tools are going to make that trip.

So, like a lot of other things in my life, I need to start sorting. I don’t need to keep everything. There are a few things that can be sold. There are others that can be given away.

Maybe I need to take a day, leave my electronic devices inside the house, and get to work on cleaning the garage. Then again, I like to have my phone so I can listen to music while I work, and maybe I should run to the hardware store to get a toolbox to organize things . . .

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!