“Computer Crashes, Silence & Renewal”
My computer crashed and died on the same day an infamous email virus “love bug” struck throughout the world. Most of my files and 3,000 email addresses were in danger of being lost. So, I reacted like any technologically handicapped person and panicked. I grabbed my precious cargo and raced to the local computer doctor pleading for help. “Shoot me straight, Doc. I can take it! Is it the love bug?”
He smiled and looked at me for the longest time. (I hate it when they do that!) “Did you download any program updates off the Internet recently?”
“Well, sure.” I replied. “Microsoft has a great automatic update reminder. Several days ago there was a message to download something to improve the Active X… whatever that is.”
A look of horror came across his face and with a look of professional disdain he asked: “Was anything wrong with your computer? Was it acting up?”
He continued, “Did you need an improvement so you could become more productive?”
“No! I don’t even know what Active X is?”
“Then why did you do it?”
With a sheepish look I stammered, “Because Microsoft told me too?”
After a long pause the doctor quietly asked: “Do you always do what Microsoft tells you?”
What could I say? I had been caught red-handed (and red faced) and charged with the crime of being careless and naïve. After a lecture on the importance of backing up your files and avoiding unnecessary downloads the doctor prescribed five days of bed rest and therapy (for the computer).
“Five days! Five days! What would I do with myself for five days? There was important work to do!”
It was at this point… that I realized… there was a problem but it wasn’t with the computer!
The Apostle Paul gives this warning to us all: “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do and you will know how good and pleasing his will really is.” (Romans 12:2)
As followers of God we are to be a “light” to others but all too often our light is subtly dimmed and discolored by the worldly passions of life. In my case it was the day-by-day demands of writing, web-site maintenance and ministry. In other words, I was doing the work but I was neglecting something far more valuable: my intimate relationship with God. It all boils down to this: What are your priorities in life? Most likely, it is what takes the majority of your time and energy. So what is dimming your light?
-Could it be the pressure to succeed in a highly competitive work environment?
-Maybe you’re feeling the daily grind of maintaining a household and caring for children.
-Are you caught up in the mind-numbing allure of any number of entertainment pleasures?
The first day was tough. Like an addict, I needed a computer fix… bad. “How do I write my devotion? Where is my schedule? What if I borrowed somebody else’s computer? Maybe, I’ll buy a new one.” The hours seemed to drag on and on. I was feeling lost and vulnerable… right where God wanted me.
Something happened during those forced periods of solitude. I did a little more reading and a lot more praying. In the midst of a forced withdrawal from my hectic routine, I discovered a gem of Biblical truth. But alas, that is next week. Meanwhile, please pray for my family. I’ve been awfully moody lately.
Last week, I wrote: After my computer crashed the doctor gave a lecture on the importance of backing up my files and avoiding unnecessary downloads then he prescribed five days of bed rest and therapy (for the computer). “Five days! What would I do for five days? There was important work to do!”
It was at this point that I realized… there was a problem but it was not with the computer!
For you the problem may be pressure to succeed at work. Maybe you’re feeling the daily grind of raising a family. You may simply be watching too much TV. In other words, whatever is sapping your creative energy and stealing your time is also preventing you from becoming all God planned for you to be. What are your priorities? Unfortunately, mine were out of order and in the shop for repair.
The first day was tough. Like an addict, I needed a computer fix… bad. “How do I write my devotion? Where is my schedule? What if I borrowed somebody else’s computer? Maybe, I’ll buy a new one.” The hours seemed to drag on and on. I was feeling lost and vulnerable, right where God wanted me.
“Maybe I should read? Yes, that’s good. Read!” A story by Arthur Gordon caught my eye about a doctor’s advice for someone going through a bleak period in life. The doctor said: “Find an isolated area, leave your beeper and telephone behind and take one of these prescriptions every three hours.”
“Sounds easy enough,” I thought. “It’s late and I can’t sleep anyway.” The story mentioned four slips of paper each with separate instructions. The first prescription was two words: “1) Listen carefully.”
“Listen to what? My telephone’s turned off. The beeper is in a drawer! There is no whirring computer in the background. What do you mean?” This was going to be more difficult than I thought. At first, I could only pace the room and fret but slowly… ever so slowly, I began to settle down. Finally something inside me seemed to whisper, “First, read, but don’t just read anything. Read Proverbs.”
The first chapter of Proverbs hit me like a bowling ball rolling for a perfect strike. Come here and listen to me! I’ll pour out the spirit of wisdom upon you and make you wise. (1:23) God wasn’t interested in my productivity, my writings or even my ministry. Like a wise parent, God was urging me to sit still and listen… really listen. Lately, I had been too busy. Imagine that and I’m a preacher! What about you?
As the hours passed, I was slowly beginning to relax. Reading soon turned to talking and talking led naturally to prayer. No longer in a hurry, I freely shared frustrations and concerns and began to patiently and quietly listen for the comforting voice of God. Inevitably, I would feel a gentle nudge to read Scripture or write a note. As the hours passed, I learned…
…being quiet and taking the time to listen is seldom a time waster. It’s excellent preparation.
…it’s difficult to really understand someone until you first make time to listen to what they say.
…it’s impossible to hear the sweet, soft voice of God until you slow the frantic pace and listen.
Are you feeling the pressure to succeed? Slowing down a few moments each day, listening to your surroundings, listening to your coworkers and most of all, listening to God will calm your nerves and enable you to discover new insights. New insights often become keys to success.
Are you feeling the daily grind of raising a family? Taking the initiative to slow down and really listen could even help you understand your crazy teenager. (Nahh!! But it may give you more patience.)
Are you watching too much TV? Reading too many novels? Spending too much time in the Internet chat room? Maybe you’re substituting entertainment for much-needed quiet and contemplation time.
1) Listen carefully.” Advice I needed to follow. Maybe you need it too. Try listening carefully this week and if you get a chance, send a note in care of this newspaper or email: LarryDavies@SowingSeedsofFaith.com and let me know how you’re doing. I’m a better listener now! Next week: I move on to prescription #2.
PART 3 & 4
“Shoot me straight, Doc. I can take it! Is it the love bug virus?” No, it wasn’t but my computer was still broken and in the shop for at least five days. “Five days! What would I do for five days?” I had a problem but it wasn’t the computer. While looking to fill the time, I ran across a story by Arthur Gordon about a doctor’s advise for overcoming bleak periods. I was to find an isolated spot and follow the instructions on four slips of paper. The first prescription was “Listen carefully.” Did you try it?
As the hours passed, I slowly began to relax. Listening soon led to prayer and prayer led to a quiet stillness and the comforting presence of God. At times, there would be prompting to read a particular scripture or write a brief note. “Listen carefully” was a reminder that even in this fast-paced environment, God is still very much in control. “Come here and listen to me! I’ll pour out the spirit of wisdom upon you and make you wise.” (Proverbs 1:23)
By now I was ready to open the doctor’s second prescription: “Try reaching back.”
“Try reaching back? For what?” On the desk is a photo album given by my two children containing a few of their favorite pictures over the years. “Memories? Is that what I’m supposed to reach back for?”
I flipped the pages of the album slowly and began to sort through the stories behind each precious photograph. The smile on my face reflected the warmth in my heart as I paused to slowly reflect and remember. There were:
– Baby pictures… (my how they have grown).
– Loving moments with my spouse… (we don’t do this nearly often enough)!
– Family vacations, parties… (we all have them you know).
– Silly moments… (I try to forget).
– Special occasions… (priceless)!
– Pets and other things… (always a special part of our family).
Each picture represented a new story to remember and enjoy. Each story represented golden moments to savor and appreciate. Each golden moment became a treasure trove of memories offering reassurance that I am a precious child of God, created for a purpose… and that purpose is realized in the faces and the hearts of those I have had the privilege to love and receive love in return.
At first, I didn’t expect much help from the Bible because there were no photographs. Wrong! Each book is full of God’s word pictures imploring us… to learn and remember.
– Genealogy lists serve as vivid reminders of those people who went before us.
– Stories illustrate the struggles of real people valiantly striving to serve God.
– Jesus poignant reminder to, “eat this bread and drink this wine in remembrance of me.”
– Chapter 11 of Hebrews represents God’s photo album illustrating heroes of our faith.
My son, obey your father’s commands and don’t neglect your mother’s teaching. Keep their words always in your heart… Wherever you walk, their counsel can lead you. When you sleep, they will protect you. When you wake up in the morning, they will advise you. For these commands and this teaching are lamps to light the way ahead of you. (Proverbs 6:20-23)
– Reaching back helps you recall the teaching of your family… of God.
– Reaching back offers reassurance that your life has meaning and a purpose.
– Reaching back can be the spark, the charge that can rekindle your fire.
This week, try reaching back into your own album of precious memories? I pray you will receive a spark to rekindle your fire. Also, read chapter 11 of Hebrews and catch a glimpse of God’s photo album of faith. Next week, I’ll share the doctor’s third of four prescriptions. I feel better. Do you?