Don’t Save Your Files on Etch A Sketch

It’s somewhat of a miracle that I can move my fingers over some keys, click some buttons, and WHAMMO!  My precious thoughts, which once rested securely under a blanket in a private corner of my heart, are violently exposed and thrust across an invisible web and broadcast to the world within nanoseconds.  Or hours, if you have dial-up. But it wasn’t always so easy. 

Since the beginning of time, children have been the driving force behind technology.

An early form of writing was cuneiform, wedge shapes carved on clay by the Sumerians of Mesopotamia.  But ancient mothers were driven insane by the fact that their toddlers would get into the clay and leave fingerprints all over the furniture.  Plus, those little pieces of primitive Play-Doh would get stuck in the rug, impossible to remove.

Another ancient form of writing was hieroglyphics, which the Egyptians carved in stone.  But this was too tempting for a toddler to chip off tiny pieces of rock and put them in his mouth.  And what parent had the time or energy to hammer out entire pictures, when they couldn’t even get their kids to go to bed?

Then came papyrus, an early form of paper invented by people who were tired of lugging heavy stones in their backpacks.  Now you had to deal with children and ink – not pretty. 

With each improvement of paper, parents realized with horror that paper serves one purpose for a small child: ripping.  Like the time I entered Nate’s bedroom and discovered most of his books shredded, a giant snow pile of words now gathered in a white heap.

Stone hieroglyphics were looking pretty good at this point. 

I thought the Etch A Sketch was a clever invention, with little opportunity for mischief.  It seemed fun in my childhood, but my children’s whining brought me back to reality.

 “I can’t make anything but STAIRS!  Aaaaagh!”

I desperately wanted this device to work, since there was nothing to rip, swallow, stain, or destroy.  But my kids had a legitimate complaint. Unless you are a brain surgeon with impeccable fine motor skills, this toy should be called Etch A Stair.  Zig. Zag. Zig. Zag.   Do you need to draw a person?  I hope he has a square head, ’cause that’s all you’ll get!

The typewriter was wonderful until you made a mistake and had to fix it by typing the same mistake all over again.  Talk about reinforcing a negative.  Assuming you ever completed a paper, if your child found it and decided to eat it for a snack,  you were doomed.

The best invention of all was the computer.  Even if your child breaks your laptop into a million pieces and uses the remains for Tinker Toys, you can save your files on an external source.  With the internet, you can send your ideas out as a permanent constellation in Cyberspace. 

Which brings us to the Bible.  Nothing can ever destroy God’s Word, not even your small child.  There are enough copies in circulation on paper to be safe, but even if every copy in the world were destroyed (and it could happen, if the toddlers of the world form a coalition), it is still on files, software programs, and external hard drives.

Isaiah 40:6-8

All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;

the grass withers and the flowers fall,

but the word of the Lord stands forever.

Etch A Sketch can be erased and paper can be ripped, but only the permanence of God’s Word can survive a rambunctious toddler.  In a way, God asks each of us to keep a set of backup files, saving his Word in the indestructible memory of our hearts.



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