Lessons from a Comatose Computer
By Audrey Stallsmith
My computer died not long ago. No, it would be more accurate to say that it did a Rip Van Winkle. When our electrical power flickered one day, the Dell which had served me dependably for five years dropped into sleep mode and refused to come out.
Never having been of a mechanical frame of mind, I had to rely on my tech-savvy mother for solutions. At the beginning, I was reluctant to let her open up the computer because I feared that any tinkering with its inner parts would make it even worse than it was already. So I desperately looked for a solution which wouldn’t involve altering anything. Just the fact that I’ve had the same computer for five years proves that I don’t deal well with change!
When it became obvious that the Dell wasn’t going to wake up on its own, however, I had to give in and allow Mom to take it apart. After testing everything, she eventually decided that the motherboard would have to be replaced. The first one we ordered from E-bay didn’t work itself, however, and had to be returned.
In the meantime, Mom generously allowed me to use her computer, while she pieced together another for herself out of spare parts. Instead of being properly grateful, I felt sorry for myself because her computer lacked programs which I considered essential, such as Photoshop and a more recent version of Word.
My computer sprang to life again after a month had elapsed and a second replacement motherboard had been inserted. Rather than being happy at this answer to prayer, I was irritated that it had taken so long. God knew, after all, that I needed the computer for my livelihood. Why couldn’t the first motherboard have worked? Why did that power flicker have to take out my computer to begin with?
Fortunately, the incident got me to thinking about the self-sacrificial love of mothers and fathers. Although I’ve never considered myself a particularly lucky sort of person, I know that I won the sweepstakes when it came to parents. My sulky attitude about my misfortune, however, implied that—although I was finally willing to trust my mother with my computer—I still wasn’t willing to trust God with my life.
When I think about it, I realize that attitude is ridiculous, since we know that all the good in us comes from God. Therefore, all the sacrificial love that parents show for their children came from our heavenly Father and is repeated many times over in Him. When we think that he is deliberately thwarting us, his only concern is for our good. To Him, our careers are not as important as our souls. He too has to tinker with the parts occasionally to fix all the things that are still wrong with us.
So was this whole experience intended to teach me a lesson, or was it just one of those random things that happens in an imperfect world? I can’t really say. What I can say is that God can make something good out of it. A Being who fashioned humans out of mud can obviously make use of whatever materials come to hand.
I should have trusted my mother with the computer earlier, since she had proved her expertise often enough. And a God who proved His love for me on Calvary shouldn’t have to keep proving it over and over again at every glitch in my life. As C. S. Lewis once said of George MacDonald, “An almost perfect relationship with his father was the earthly root of all his wisdom. From his own father, he said, he first learned that Fatherhood must be at the core of the universe.”
Back when we still heated the house with wood, we kids had to take turns unloading the firewood that our father had cut and stacked in a trailer. On a cold winter’s night, when I was feeling sorry for myself as I heaved blocks of wood from the trailer into the coal cellar, Dad would often come out to help—even though he had already spent hours chopping that wood. In the same way, God will help us through the difficult tasks he sets us, if we allow Him to do so.
As George MacDonald wrote in Heather and Snow, “for life to be a good thing and worth living, a man must be the child of a perfect father, and know him.” I would say “of a perfect parent,” since God is neither male nor female.
As wonderful as my folks are, I have to admit that they aren’t perfect. But all of us—even those of you who didn’t have a good upbringing—have a perfect Parent in God. Like all parents, he may drive us crazy at times, but we should never doubt his love.