January 2011

“Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people. . . to bring salvation to those waiting for him (Hebrews 9. 27-8) The Bible

This was meant to be about a ‘coffee beans’ collector card. I sat down to the computer to write it, and it was showing a strange series of lines without responding to anything I typed in. I switched it off and re-started it – a blank black screen; tried again – a blank white screen. Eventually it re-loaded – and promptly failed again into lines. It had crashed (I’m getting quite good at these technical terms!), and crashed comprehensively. Fortunately, Tim was in the house, and he set to with a screwdriver and much muttering about ‘video cards’ and ‘motherboards’ and other foreign phrases. He really is a whiz with computers; I was in shock at all the work on the hard drive not ‘backed-up’, or copied since the last time I copied the drive, a month ago – it was due to be done that day or so, and so there was a whole month of possibly lost work and data, including the accounts.

We mostly try to remember to copy all the work on the computers every month, but its always one of those jobs to which you intend to get around; it never seems that urgent until you catastrophically lose all the work you have been doing, then suddenly, ‘backing-up’ seems to be the most important thing you could have done, but its all too late; the air is rendered with deep groans and ‘if only’s. After a month, you not only don’t know what you’ve lost, you’re not even aware of the extent of the problem – until you reach for some data and find it missing. I even knew that the computer was going to fail – it showed some signs a while back, and it was scheduled for replacement, but every time it failed, I just switched it off and re-started it, losing only a small amount of work, even if it was rather irritating. Now that my work was endangered, it seemed altogether rather daft that I’d not copied it while I could.

To his credit – and my effusive thanks – Tim succeeded in retrieving all my data by removing the hard drive from my computer, putting it in the other computer, transferring my data to an external hard drive, and then restoring the second computer – after storing all the data from this computer before he began, just in case!He vacuumed the dust away, replaced a couple of parts, and even got my crashed computer to breathe again, though I don’t think I’ll trust it for very long. At least I get a chance to reform my ‘back-up’ procedure, a second chance to avoid the disastrous consequences of my inaction.

It was – and perhaps still is – a popular thought that you could live as you wanted to, and then repent at the last moment. In one episode of ‘Last of the Summer Wine’, one character decided he was going to die on Tuesday (Monday was shepherd’s pie night, and he wasn’t going to miss that); visited by his friends, they spotted a bible on his bedside table, and on enquiry, learnt that he had much to put right before Tuesday. He, of course, didn’t die on Tuesday – and, like him, very few of us know the day of our death. Hebrews declares “. . . man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgement . . . ” (Hebrews 9. 27) No second chance. No Tim able to undo our neglect and rescue us retrospectively. One life, then judgement. How will you face it?Will the air be rendered with deep groans and ‘if only’s; will it all be too late?We always meant to get around to getting straight with God, but it seemed like there was plenty of time. We even knew that one day we would die and face him, but . . . other things seemed to be more important at the time.

Oh yes, ‘coffee bean’ collector cards. The coffee I was drinking had a card on the side and a promise that after five, the sixth would be free. I carefully collected the cards. When Tim threw his cup away, I remonstrated with him – save the special card!He burst into laughter. I was saving the collector cards, not the ‘coffee bean’ that actually counted, little stickers also on the cup. My priority, however diligent, was utterly misplaced and worthless. Tim kindly retrieved the ‘beans’ and I stuck them on one card. One life, then judgement. So easy to misplace priorities, to value the wrong things, to always intend to get our priorities right, to sort things out before its too late and I lose it all, to use the time aright now, you know that I’ll do it soon, eventually, but. . .

There is hope. Hebrews continues, “so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people. . . to bring salvation to those waiting for him. ” (Hebrews 9. 28)

Praying that you may find in Christ Jesus meaning, purpose, future and the right priorities – today

Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Simon Cox.