Accepting no substitutes, no matter how close

My phone rang today and I missed the call. I was busy at work and didn’t pick it up in time. The screen displayed that I had a missed call and a new voicemail so as soon as time permitted I listened to the message. A friend of mine was on the line and asked me to call her back. So I did and guess what? We began to play the proverbial game of phone tag! I left her a message and went back to the paperwork covering my desk.

Eventually we connected and had quite a humorous conversation. It turns out that her initial phone call had been resolved and technically she no longer needed to speak to me. She had been in search of a traditional, old fashioned typewriter and for some reason called me to see if I knew how to get my hands on one. I was not the least bit insulted by the insinuation that I might know the whereabouts of something so antiquated as a typewriter, but the fact that I have an old standard manual in my closet validates her instincts to call me! In the meantime however, while I was missing her call and she was missing mine, she managed to get her hands on a quaint old machine, and simply decided to call me back as a courtesy.

The funny thing was, as we chatted a bit, that after she got the typewriter going, she made the disconcerting discovery that the blasted thing had no “one”. I really wasn’t sure what she meant by this. It has no “one”? Was the ”one” button absent? Was the armature connecting the “one” button to the “one” striker broken? She clearly had received some defective merchandise. But, no, that wasn’t the case at all. The keyboard was completely intact and the mechanism was fully functioning. There simply was no space for a number “one” key. It had never been part of the device to begin with and was therefore not missing. What an oddity! How would a person be expected to properly use this typewriter without a “one”?

And then it hit me. Somewhere in the deep dark recesses of my memory I had obtained a trivial piece of information that suddenly rose to the surface of my brain. I knew why there was no “one”. The manufacturer of this typewriter had elected to conserve space and eliminate an unnecessary key by substituting the lower case “L” for the number “one”. I don’t know why I knew this fact, but I shared it with my friend and she quickly rushed to the keyboard to test it out. Lo and behold, a lower case “L” looks enough like a genuine number “one” to make it work, at least on an old fashioned typewriter. It doesn’t work so well on a computer keyboard, but trust me, that was the solution to our funny little mystery.


We both got a good chuckle out of it, and we decided that she really did have to call me after all so I could share this tidbit of information with her and set her mind at ease about the strange typewriter she was trying to use. Long after our conversation had ended and my day meandered on through doctor appointments and errands, I continued to think about the missing “one” on the keyboard. It spoke to me and I felt like there was a lesson here for me to learn.

Just like my friend who couldn’t quite figure out how she was going to make use of this bizarre typewriter until she found the “one”, we human beings quickly sense that something is amiss when the “One” is missing from our lives. We search and search to no avail, and often make due with lesser substitutes to replace the “One”. But the truth is, just like on the typewriter, everything else we use in place of the “One” is still just a lower case “L”. No matter how close it gets, it will never be truly authentic. Of course I am referring to the “One” true God and our relationship with Him. My friends, when it comes to this “One”, no matter how close the copy is, accept no substitutes!