I remember the first time I used a computer spreadsheet. I remember the color of the room, the lighting, the chair where I was sitting, the direction I was facing (east). It was amazing. I went to engineering school during the final days of the key-punch card era, and computers were not a pleasant experience. We worked for hours punching out our programs, loading them into the card reader, then waiting around for the answers to come spitting out of the printer. Usually, they were mostly error messages.
I assumed my computing days ended with graduation. I thought I’d hand my work to some mysterious computer processing person and they would bring back the answers two days later.
But that day when I was playing with Lotus 2.0 for the first time, I realized I didn’t have to wait for answers. The spreadsheet calculated as fast as I could type. I saw a new future, and it was brilliant. I can still hear the angels singing and see the bright light filling the room.
In the beginning I used my computer as a fancy typewriter, producing prettier reports and clearer writing. Then I used it as a powerful calculator, solving problems and making predictions that would’ve been impossible with graph paper and pencil. Then my computer became my telephone – beginning with email, which allowed me to publish my writing to family and friends, and then to websites, which opened my writing up to strangers, and then to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and all that. Social media opened up the greater world to this once cave-dwelling introvert.
Some people complain that social media takes over our lives and replaces old-fashioned face-to-face conversations. Not for me. I wasn’t having those conversations before, I wasn’t talking on the phone (something I still avoid), I wasn’t checking in on people and maintaining relationships. Instead I lived under a rock in my cave and I was happy that way.
But now I have regular digital conversations with people around the world, and I’ve discovered I am even happier.
Until Sunday night when Windows decided to push the November Update to me with no warning. By the time it was finished, I couldn’t find my files, my photos, or my music. And the update appeared to delete my most-used aps, including the entire Microsoft Office Suite (Outlook, Word, Excel, etc.).
It was heartbreaking. Microsoft not only did me harm, they did it with no warning or permission. And they did it with a smile on their face. The screen announced: “You will be happy with the changes.” Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
So I spent two days standing on the ledge deciding what to do next. Should I reinstall Office and hope for the best? Should I do a clean install of Windows 10? Or should I revert to Windows 7 and rest in the peace of a well-known and reliable, if ancient, operating system?
Now this is the point when all my Mac-using friends start firing up their emails to tell me to switch and my problems will be over. I did that already, for a year, and I was never happy during that experiment.
My friend, Vern Hyndman, one of several friends who talked me down off the ledge and convinced me to put away my sharp knives, said, “Whether you go Mac or PC you have to buy into a set of irritations.” He’s right. We find the irritations that we can live with and move forward.
The big question I have to ask through all of this, the big question we all have to ask every day, is this: Who do you trust?
Sometimes the person, or the company, we trust turns on us suddenly and without warning and we are left staring at a stupid message streaming across our screen.
We say we trust God but there’s always that fear that he will delete our favorite aps and leave us standing on the ledge with a restructured and unfamiliar life.
Trusting anyone requires a buy-in on our part; a conscious decision.
How do we learn to trust God? Here are two ways that have worked for me: (1) Pray “Teach me to trust you” every day, and (2) Stay close to godly friends who can pull you back from the edge and steer you back toward God.
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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