Sunday, February 25, 2007

On the Line

Have you ever tried helping someone over the telephone to solve a problem that they are having with their computer? My mother does an amazing job getting around her computer but she has only learned to do so in the last ten years or less. Sometimes, when things don't work as they should, she calls me to try and help her over the telephone. It can be a frustrating thing for both of us. For me, because I can't see exactly what she sees so that I will know what to do, and for her because she can describe what she sees to me, but I don't seem to understand. It comes down to terminology usually. The words we use may not have the same meaning to each of us.

I discovered computers my freshman year in college. The very first personal computers were just being introduced, so most of my early exposure was to punch cards. Computers have come a long way since then. The personal computers we have today are very user friendly compared to what we had then. We had to write programs to do the most basic tasks. To add a column of numbers would take a program composed of several punched cards, plus a data deck containing a card for each number that we wanted to add together. If the cards were out of order, or if there was a mistake on a card, you didn't know until you ran the program and got the results stating there was an error. Then you had to sort through the deck until you found the card with the mistake that caused the program to fail, fix it, and then run the program again. The next time, a different error might cause the program to fail. Then you would go back through the process of fixing the error before trying again.

In a way it was a little like helping Mom to fix her computer over the telephone. Sometimes there is trial and error for several iterations before we figure out what to do to resolve the issue. It can be a test of patience for both of us.

I wonder sometimes if that's the way God feels toward us. He tells us what we should do, but we sometimes don't seem to understand. Or, perhaps we don't think that the answer He gives us could be correct, so we do what we think instead. He doesn't give up on us though. He stays on the line listening to us describe what is going on and how we need it fixed. Sometimes I don't think we listen to His answers. Especially when they don't fit our idea of the solution. I'm glad that He hangs in there with us. I know that I couldn't get through without Him.

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