My elderly mother was on the phone. “The next time you visit, would you mind looking in the garage? Your brother is helping clean it out, and he came across some of your old things.”

What childhood leftovers could possibly remain? When I arrived, there it was: a ponderous manual office typewriter, as sturdy as ever, but a little rusty from three decades of disuse. The sight brought back happy memories. My parents had bought it secondhand to reward me for passing an important exam at age 11. I’d taught myself to type and spent many hours during my teen years hammering out poems and stories.

Before I could reconcile with the idea that my old friend should finally be thrown away, I tried typing on it again. I had forgotten how much force was required to press a key on an old manual typewriter! Maybe it was the old ribbon, but I could barely see what I had typed. Oops, I made a mistake! My right pinkie shot up to fix the mistake, and then I remembered there was no key to delete backwards, that I was back in the day of crumbly typewriter erasers. Hammering painstakingly, I managed to type a few words. A bell sounded, signaling me to pull back the lever that advanced the paper and returned the heavy carriage to start a new line. I had expended a lot of effort and had very little to show for it.

How different it is typing on my tablet! Lightweight and portable, I can take it with me virtually anywhere. I slip it out of my purse, press the power button, and it turns on instantly. A few feather-light keystrokes and the first words form on the screen. One press of the backspace key deletes my mistakes. A few more keystrokes and spelling mistakes are autocorrected. One more click and I save my work. A few more clicks and I can email copies to friends around the world—no carbon paper, envelopes, or stamps needed—and they will get them almost instantly.

Our spiritual lives are a bit like that. God offers us “portable spiritual technology” to use throughout our daily lives—prayer power, a personal relationship with Him, and gifts of the Holy Spirit such as wisdom, knowledge, and faith 1—but it’s up to us. We can avail ourselves of the gifts He offers, or we can try to manage without God’s help. That sounds every bit as unreasonable as me working today on my old typewriter instead of the fast, easy, and portable tablet. God’s spiritual technology can improve our lives, so let’s use it.

  1. See 1 Corinthians 12.