An Old Flash Drive Appeared


It was a conference organized like many other conferences. A parade of speakers came to the podium to present papers dealing with a particular area of interest to the participants. The conference organizers had supplied a meeting room, a screen and projector, and a computer connected to the projector. Each new presenter inserted his or her flash drive into the computer slot, typed in a few passwords, and new material appeared on the screen; the speaker was ready to begin now.

They go by different names such as flash drives, thumb drives, USB drives, memory sticks, or several other terms. As small and portable storage containers for computer generated information, they are handy and useful. Put information on one, put it in your pocket, and plug it into the computer when you need the information. Just do not lose it.

There are larger containers of information, of course, including the main hard drive of the computer, but the small size and portability of flash drives is clearly helpful.

While I was going through my desk drawers the other day, I found a flash drive that had been there for many years judging from its contents. Granted, the electronic world is still rather recent in many ways, but it is beginning to age some as this rediscovered flash drive would attest.

Plugging it into my computer, I found myself taken back a couple of decades to classes, presentations, and photographs of people significant (or not) at the time. It was rather like an electronic treasure hunt.

I found myself asking questions such as, “What has happened to me since the time I saved this material? Where are the people in these photos? Is getting older changing who I am?”

Some of you readers are not here yet, but there is a time when each of us begins to ask some questions about the trajectory of our life. Those questions become more and more frequent. They can be (and are sometimes) distressing, but, fortunately, there are some who have gone before us who have left helpful reflections and we can often see ourselves in them. Books and essays on “aging” are abundant and are becoming to me a true treasure of assurance and, frankly, ideas. I believe I am, in fact, changing as I age, and not necessarily for the worse.

The words “memory” and “remembrance” are mentioned over 250 times in the Bible. This is apparently a big deal for God, and scripture is packed with teachings in which God urges His people to engage in acts that help them remember their roles as His followers. Clearly these repetitions of God’s “mighty acts” are designed to keep God’s followers true to Him. One might even suggest that God has created some “spiritual flash drives” and leaves them tucked away in drawers for us to find occasionally.

The flash drive I recently came upon has stimulated some further musings. Like basically everyone else, much of my life has been spent as a producer; my accomplishments have been measured and sometimes even complimented. Those days may be mostly gone now. Others have taken over jobs of which I was proud and fewer people ask my opinion. Each of us carries an idol of what people think of us; it is time to dump that concern. Does it really matter if I am not in charge? At this stage of life, perhaps we need to emphasize loving others by listening more than doing. Someone has suggested a goal is to be a peaceful presence.  

There is some pain in leaving behind a life of meeting needs and fixing things—practical issues. Diminishing opportunities, lower energy levels, and lack of expertise must craft new directions for us. We (I) need a transformation from a productivity role to a fruit-bearing role. How did we consistently overlook what God’s real goals for us are? “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23.

That spiritual flash drive we carry in our pocket or purse could remind us of what God has in mind for us now. 

Jim Nichols is a retired Abilene Christian University biology professor and current hospice chaplain


  • Those things our lives have been based on is our history. They are indeed important.


  • Jim, your piece says exactly what I feel much of the time. I was always a doer, a fixer, an Energizer bunny! Some days now I feel so useless. Thank you for reminding me that who I AM is as important as what I Do.


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