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Clifford One – 5 3 0 8

What seems like a lifetime ago, a young 5 or 6 year old boy named Kent, was desperately missing his Grandma Snyder, and went to his mom and asked if he could call grandma and talk to her. Mom said, I think that’s a great idea. Actually, this Kent was yours truly and I remember this like it was yesterday – which is odd because sometimes I don’t remember yesterday! So, Kent walked over to the phone on the wall, looked up at the imposing device, got a quizzical look on his face, and turned to mom and boldly asked – how do I call grandma? You see I knew the phone had to be used to call grandma, I had seen many grown-ups use it, but I had never made a phone call before, so I was lost!

Mom said, I’ll tell you what to do. Lift the phone up off that lever it sits on, put the wire end up to your mouth, and the other end up to your ear. She then told me to listen to hear if I heard anyone talking. She explained to me if no one was talking, that in just a few seconds a voice would speak and ask me; “Number Please?” When this lady says number, please, you tell her Clifford one 5-3-0-8.

When I picked up the phone, there were people talking, so with the phone to my mouth, as I was told, I loudly yelled at mom; “There’s people talking mommy, what do I do now?” I’m sure the people trying to have a conversation just loved the interruption. Mom quickly yelled – hang up the phone. I did so and almost began crying because I was sure I had messed something up. Mom comforted me by explaining that almost every one in my neighborhood shared the same phone line, so when we hear people talking, we need to “QUIETLY” hang up and keep checking back until no one is using the line.

I understood, I think, but like a kid on a long drive or trip, I kept asking mom, can I call yet…can I call yet? Mom kept checking the line for me and finally it was silent. She told me to come to the phone as quickly as I could and I ran to the phone. I heard her say, “Operator, my son is going to use the phone for the first time to call his grandma, can you wait until he’s on the phone to ask him?” I remember thinking, ask me what? So, mom handed me the phone and after a short pause I heard a very proper sounding voice say; “Number Please?” By this time, I had forgotten the number but only remembered the Clifford part…I shyly mumbled “it’s Clifford something.” My mom jumped in and told me Clifford -1 – 5 – 3 – 0 – 8, and I repeated exactly that as she said it. The lady on the phone chuckled and exclaimed – “well done young man!!!” And then said, “one moment please.” The next thing I heard was an odd buzzing-clicking type sound about every 2 seconds. I looked to mom to begin to say – “it’s making a funny buzzing sound,” when out of those sounds, I hear a very familiar voice say, “hello.” I sheepishly said – “Gramma…this is Kent.” She said, “well hello my dear”…she always called me 'my dear,' and what ensued was the greatest, most heart-warming phone call of all time!

Now, obviously this is a simple personal story from my past, but the reason I am posting this is for our younger generations who are so absorbed by, and surrounded by, phones on every passing person, that they don’t realize how far this technology has come and how precious a simple phone call used to be, just 60 years ago in 1961.

Waiting your turn to use one shared party-phone line. Calling over and over again and getting a busy signal until finally connecting with the person you wish to call. Relying on an operator to connect you to the right phone number, and finally having to go to the one room in the house, that had a phone on the wall, to make a call.

The phone has come a long way since that day in March, 146 years ago when Alexander Graham Bell first uttered the words; “Mr. Watson – come here – I want to see you.” And sure, enough the very first phone call occurred. Four years later, the same Alexander Graham Bell invented the first wireless phone that transmitted a sound on a beam of light. Today we can call nearly anywhere, and there have even been calls made from space to places here on earth. Phone calls from an airplane or a car, are no longer only for the rich, but everyone can make these calls. Nearly every person in the developed world has at least one phone, and even kids as young as that young Kent was when he made his first ever call, carry phones around in their pockets, using them at will.

We can call anyone, we can call several anyone’s, at the same time and have 2, 3, 4 or more people on the same call. We never get a busy signal we just leave a message. We can block calls from people we don’t want to talk to and we can have our phones play happy music or amusing sounds when those we love call us. We can forward our phone calls to others or friends, and we can make multiple calls, to different people, at the same time.

To top it all off, our phones are now mini computers. We can order dinner, go shopping for nearly anything, and use our phone as a camera to take not just still photos, but videos/movies, as well. We can do our banking, buy tickets, unlock doors, and even tell our phone to remind us of important dates, and appointments. We can get the news, the weather, gamble on sports, or gamble on nearly anything, listen to thousands of songs free, watch thousands of videos for free, and even use the phone as an alarm clock.

I often wonder what Alexander Graham Bell would think today if he saw how his simple invention has grown into a multi-trillion-dollar business, a business many many people cannot live without.

I think back and I can remember that old phone on the wall. I remember when we got a new phone that actually had a dial with numbers on it. I remember our first private phone line, and then the evolution of the portable phones with multiple colors to choose from, all still connected to the wall via a wire. Then years later the first affordable portable phone you could carry on your person, that could only make phone calls. Today, I don’t think there’s any daily task a phone cannot do, except be a living breathing loving caring human being with genuine thoughts, actions, and emotions.

I don’t suppose there is too much negative to say about this influx of phones and the growing dependence many people have. Accept, I’m afraid many could not live without their phones. They would be lost, anxious, angry, and lose all sense of self, because their phones have become their love, their addiction, their idol.

So as handy as these devices have become, I have to pose some very important and giant questions:

· Can you live without your phone?

· Can you die without your phone?

· When you die, what will happen to your phone?

· I don’t think you can take it with you to heaven!?!?

· Will you be able to truly bask in the beauty and magnificence of heaven and God’s incredible love and grace, without your phone?

Even though I was that young man who didn’t know much about using a phone, there is one key thing I do know…God is calling all of us every day, and we don’t need a phone to answer or talk to Him. He is seeking a conversation with us and always wants us, to have a relationship with Him. We most certainly can talk to Him, reach out to Him, and send our thoughts and prayers to Him, every moment of every day, and we need no device to do so.

Perhaps if we spent just 1/10th of the time we spend on our phones, working to have a relationship with God, our lives, our families, our culture, our society, our country, and our world would be a better place. That young boy desperately wanted to speak to his grandma because he loved her and wanted everything, to talk to her. Having that same relationship with God, will be even more rewarding, and we need no operator nor phone to connect us to Him.

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