September 2016

“I hate computers!”   I bet you’ve said that more than once.  If not, you either never use computers or you’re a super-expert and can’t understand why any of us have problems.  Towards the end of June, the computer I do ALL my work on started to not ‘wake up’ when I switched it on.  At first, this happened occasionally, then frequently, then before I could take remedial action, permanently.  Disaster!  All the tasks I had to do urgently, including the four-monthly rota of all the services, leading, preaching, reading, praying, etc., were on hold, and the data from the last 10 days when I had last done a ‘back-up’ was all lost.  It felt like bereavement.

I rushed the computer to the local computer hospital shop and it was hooked up to a life-support machine.  The consultant looked grave.  “There’s been a surge in the power-pack and it’s damaged the motherboard.”  “That’s bad?” “It’s had it!” Despairingly, “Oh!”  “The good news is I’ve recovered all the data from the hard drive.”  The hard drive is the computer’s memory, the motherboard more like the processing part of the brain (and the power pack more the heart – it’d had a heart attack leading to a stroke.)  There was the hard drive, hooked up to another processor and screen, so I could see sort-of disembodied memories.

I was sold a refurbished computer which seemed adequate for my actual usage.  The data was downloaded and the programmes loaded, all in all taking a fair bit of work.  The new computer still had different ways of working, so although it had the data, it didn’t behave exactly like before, which meant I was also learning how to work with it, coupled with the need to re-load the programme licences.  10 days after I started using the ‘new’ computer, I went to switch it on and nothing happened except a grinding kind of noise.  Back it went to the computer shop.  The diagnosis was still worse.

The grinding noise was the mechanical failure of the hard drive, meaning the computer could not access the memory, and all the work of the past 10 days was lost.  One of the problems of such catastrophic loss is you don’t even know what you’ve lost until you need it!  As I began this article, I found it included last month’s article (now recovered externally).  I was aghast.  The computer man was apologetic, although it was an unpredictable event.  He called me the next day.  “I’ve managed to fit the hard drive from your old computer into the ‘new’ computer, if that’s any help.”  He’d tried this before without success but now it was working.

I tentatively tried this hybrid; suddenly an old friend appeared, my computer just as it had been, the programmes and shortcuts all where I’d left them some 3 weeks earlier.  I had lost the 10 days of data, but here the computer was as if I’d turned it off 3 weeks ago and now just turned it back on.  It was the memory of the old computer with the brain and heart of a new computer.  I’ve managed to recover a fair bit of the lost data by examining e-mails where I’d sent the document to other people (just as well as since then I’ve suffered an accidental catastrophic deletion of 2,200 e-mails). Mind you, I’m now ‘backing-up’ more frequently – and wondering how this is supposed to encourage us to let computers drive our cars!

I was explaining this to the 8am congregation, and realised that there was a metaphor here. My computer had a completely new body, functioning perfectly, but within was all the essential memories of the old.  As far as the original computer was concerned, it had merely paused and re-awoken, fully active.  Christians are promised in Christ a resurrection similar to his, because of his death and resurrection.  Jesus’ resurrection body was clearly different, yet Jesus was recognisably the same person.  St Paul writes flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God… We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed… in the twinkling of an eye… thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (The Bible 1 Cor 15.50-51, 57) and St Peter writes, calling his body ‘a tent’  as long as I am in this tent… since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me… after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. (2 Peter 1.13-15).  As your body ages and malfunctions, it’s good to know that your ‘hard drive’, all that makes you essentially ‘you’, will be re-housed in Christ forever.

Praying that you may find in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13.8) the confidence of an eternity with God and an enabling to live with that assured future

Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Simon Cox.

You can find the full text of the September Herald here