A Weekly Column
By Joseph Walker


For my friend, Claire, computers are a wonderful mystery.

She loves the informational possibilities of the Internet. She loves being able to communicate with her friends all around the world via e-mail. She loves playing Solitaire.

But she has no idea how it all works. And when it doesn’t work . . well, that’s even more of a mystery. Albeit not especially wonderful.

So when her hard drive crashed (rest in peace, you defragmented hunk of . . . well, whatever you are) she decided it was time to get a new computer. She did her research and she’s pretty sure she got a good one. It came with all sorts of bells and whistles, but it didn’t come with a good anti-virus program. And Claire has learned through bitter experience that there are few things on a computer more important than a good anti-virus program.

The frustrating thing is, she had one on her old computer. A really good one, for which she had paid handsomely. And since she had more than eight months left on the contract for this wonderful anti-virus program, she wanted to know if there was a way to get it installed on her new computer without having to purchase new software or without having to take it in to the VooDoo Computer Shop – or the nearest teenager, whichever came first.

She made a few phone calls. She got bounced from service representative to technician back to service representative again. Eventually she learned from a technician in India – hey, I TOLD you that she got bounced around a lot – that they could download the program to her new computer through the Internet, but she would have to allow them to take control of her keyboard for a few minutes. She didn’t really understand how they could do that, but she figured if it meant she could get her anti-virus program installed it was worth a try.

A box suddenly appeared on her screen, asking her permission for the technician to take over her computer.

“At first it was a little frightening,” Claire said. “It was like they were inside my computer talking to me. I couldn’t help but wonder what else they could see in there.”

Still, she went ahead and clicked the “yes” box and allowed the woman in India to have her way with her computer.

“It was amazing to watch that little arrow moving around my screen as I sat there with my hands in my lap,” Claire said. “Even though she was thousands of miles away the technician was scanning things and accessing whatever she needed as she moved deftly through the process. I had no idea what she was doing, but clearly she did. So I just turned my computer over to her and let her do what she needed to do.”

In just a few minutes the job was done, and control of the computer was returned to Claire, good as new.

In fact, BETTER than new.

As she sat at her keyboard enjoying her new, safe computer, Claire couldn’t help but see a profound lesson for herself in her own, non-cybernetic life.

“There is no way I could have done all of that myself,” she said. “Not in a million years. All that clicking, controlling all of those menus, going places that I didn’t even know existed on my computer – there’s no way I could have done that, not even with a book of instructions. The best and safest thing for me to do was to back off and let an expert run the show.

“And it seems to me that it’s the same way with God,” she continued. “While we do a pretty good job with our lives most of the time, there are moments when we’re in way over our heads. At such times it’s probably a good idea to turn the controls over to Him, and then to back off and let the Expert run the show. After all, it’s His show, and He knows what He’s doing.”

Even though sometimes it’s all a wonderful mystery to us.

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— © Joseph Walker

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