What Really Matters?
Joe Clark ~~ May 25, 2002

Okay, this is my fourth article in the past week or so. I promise I'm not getting anti-writer's block, and I'll stop all this chatter soon, or at least decrease the frequency. But I had one more thought today that I think deserves my attention.

I was thinking today and pondering how I've gotten several fun little electronic gadgets lately. None of these are really "necessary" to my life, or really even my current lifestyle (except maybe the new desktop computer). But they are nice things to have. I am now able to listen to music more flexibly, I'm able to do computer work in the park, and I can carry on a phone conversation in any corner of the house. I am so blessed. I have arrived.

Well, not quite. As May comes to an end and I begin thinking about the summertime, with all its floaty happy thoughts about being outside and doing fun things, I want to remind myself that most things in life are only tools. A tool may be quite flashy and fun to use and have lots of power, but in the end it's only a tool. Computers are tools. Gadgets are tools. Cars are tools. etc. etc. The only two things I see that are not tools are God and people. In my mind, the appropriate use of any of these gadgets should be as a tool to reach some end relating to something that is not a tool in itself (God or people). Of course, there will be moments or hours or days spent working with the tools, perfecting them, learning about them, and really just having fun with them. But again, I always intend to remember that God takes highest priority, and people take second priority. To that end, realizing that I have just acquired more tools, I want to search for ways to use these tools to further the causes of God in whatever way I can, and also to help people out in some way.

For a simple example, I took a computer down to my Grandma's house the other day and showed it to her. I allowed her to do some simple things with it, which were new to her, but she was willing to work with it for a few minutes. In my mind, that's an appropriate use of the tool. I was spending time with people important to me, and in some less relevant sense I was helping her learn how to use the tool, in case sometime in the future she'll find a use for it.

Another note on this subject is that, within reason, I am also a person, and using the tools to edify myself is an appropriate use of tools. Listening to music in the car is one example. Enhancing my ability to communicate with others by having a new phone is another example (albeit a stretched one). I suppose that we often are tempted at times to reject tools that will only benefit ourselves, but if they **really do** benefit us, then they are useful. If they only serve to, in the end, waste our time on this planet, however, they are probably not worth the time and effort.

So, my goal for this summer, and for all time really, is to make the days count. Whether that means using the tools or freeing myself from them depends on the day and what my activities are for the day. I expect to have days where the tools will come in very handy, and will help me to serve others more effectively, or to increase the "beautification engineering" quality of time spent on my own projects (ya know, computing in the park for example is beautification engineering). At other times, "the tools" should be the farthest thing from my mind, and I should banish all concerns about them.

If I stick by these guidelines, I think I will make the most of the tools and gadgets at my disposal, and it will take me further toward the goal of making the most of my life as a whole.