He knows just what I need

By Curtis K. Shelburne: Religion columnist

I don’t know if anyone has come up with a 12-step group, something on the order of Alcoholics Anonymous, for packrats, but I hope so. I need to join forthwith.

“We’ve always done it that way,” is the motto for folks with one kind of affliction. But the motto for folks with my kind of affliction is just as binding, albeit shorter: “I might need that.”

Let me share a microcosm of my life that illustrates the depth of the problem.

A couple of years ago, I switched over from a briefcase-style computer bag to a backpack-style bag. One reason was I was afraid carrying a briefcase might lead to the habitual wearing of power ties and suits. But I also found that I could carry more stuff in the backpack, stuff that “I might need.”

At the time, it hadn’t occurred to me that backpacks also work better on Honda Magna V45 750cc motorcycles; that fortuitous discovery came later.
But I’ve noticed about three or four times a year, the backpack’s weight bumps up to around 30 pounds, and I need to take everything out of the bag. Everything. And then put stuff away, throw stuff away, lighten the load, and start the process over again.
Here’s what I found in the backpack last time I cleaned it out:
• one computer and power adapter
• many business cards
• one PDA & stylus
• five floppy disks
• one CD case with 20 CDs
• one pair of socks
• one page of a wedding sermon
• two A/C plug adapters
• one 100 GB external hard drive and cable
• two legal pads
• many empty CD sleeves
• numerous blank note cards and envelopes
• one USB hub
• two sets of earphones
• two sets of earplugs
• a LAN card
• various computer cables
• a cheap jogging watch (I don’t jog)
• one Windows XP booklet & CD
• one Dell system CD
• one floppy drive
• one long phone cord
• one short phone cord
• one phone cord retractor
• two phone cord unions
• three highlighters; three pens
• two pen refills
• one book light
• one flashlight
• one 256K flash drive
• one audio cable
• five program CDs (QuarkXpress and Norton Systemworks)
• two audio accompaniment CDs
• two wedding video CDs
• five unidentified CDs and DVDs
• one Michael Card CD
• one very practical article on “Impractical Christianity”
• five books (Well-Intentioned Dragons, The Contented Soul, Preaching and Worship in the Small Church, A Change of Heart, For the Life of the World: Sacrament and Orthodoxy
• pictures of various views of the inside of my wife’s colon (tossed in after a good report from a routine colonoscopy; I mean the pics, not the colon)
• an article on transferring an AOL address book
• an article on using MS Outlook with AOL
• last Sunday’s sermon; three old sermons
• a flyer for our church’s Coat Drive
• and a check for the Mission Fund
Ah, if the problem was just confined to my backpack . . .
I’m glad the old song is true: “He (Jesus) Knows Just What I Need.” I obviously don’t.

Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Mulesho