12(This is a recurring series of the fifty events that shaped the course of my life and the person I’ve become along the way.  It was supposed to occur weekly, but somewhere along the way, I got knocked off course.   Welcome to my worldand my therapy.)

The fall of 1994 was the most intense time of transition I had ever faced.  We knew that our time in San Diego was coming to a close.  Missionary support had pretty much dried up.  I had a number of ministry opportunities that were floating my way.  But I was restless.

I was pretty sure I needed to be back in youth ministry, but my confidence was at an all-time low.   What I believed about the church and culture and leadership and even aspects of the sacred doctrine of my youth, had been called into question over the previous decade.

So before I could move on, I felt like I had to get some things squared away in my thinking.  At least that’s what I thought I needed.

So I made arrangements to get away for a few days.  Just me…my camperthe crisp air of the Cuyamaca mountainsand a borrowed, first-generation, four-pound, IBM “think pad” (laptop) that I had never used before.  (For inquiring minds, I was in a National Forest campground, so I had electricity.)

I wanted to write what I believed.  About everything important.  I wanted to create a document that I could hand to someone and when they read it, they would get me.  They would hear my heart and understand my thought process.

I went to the mountains armed with about 75-80 different “topics” to write on.  Practical and theoretical.  Doctrine and practice.  Theological hot buttons and orthodox fundamentals.

And so I wrote.  And wrote and wrote and wrote.  For three days.

The problem?  I was a computer newbie.  I wasn’t an office guy.  My computer usage was limited to writing an occasional support letter and figuring out how to save things on floppy disks.

So at the conclusion of my three-day mind dump, my overworked laptop had about 200 pages of my heart stored on the hard drive.  I thought.  Nobody had ever told me about saving my content.  Come on.  I just assumed that when I wrote it, it was being safely tucked away in its computer bowels.  Yeah.

So when it came time to pack up and head for home, I powered down the machinenot realizing I had failed to properly save any of the 200 pages.  As soon as the screen went dark, so did my heart.  I knew I had done something wrong.  Terribly wrong.

Over the next few weeks, every attempt to retrieve my prized possession ended in the continuation of my perpetual upset stomach.  I finally had to accept that it was gone.  Forever.  But the sickness inside wasn’t gone.  Far from it.

Friends asked me in the months that followed, if I was ever going to write it again.  I wanted to, but I no longer had the heart.  And a life-lesson emerged.

It took losing a 200-page doctrinal treatise for me to realize that things I believe are always evolving and changing and deepening.  Even though God’s perfect truth never changes, our imperfect understanding does.

And only the arrogant believe they have perfect understanding.


4 thoughts on “Game-changers…#12

  1. Isn’t the “life changer” in this illustration, that you should have asked someone how to use a laptop?

    What did you do the first time you used a chain saw?
    Or does our lack of asking for help further confirm why women live longer than men?

    Trust me – I remember the first time trying to type a term paper, then taking a 3.5 floppy to the library to print my paper. Then realize I typed in Microsoft WORKS and had no way to convert to Macintosh.
    Boom! life changer.

    ALWAYS SAVE YOUR WORK – probably gave me my life changer 25, 82 , and 103

  2. We didn’t even call them “laptops” back then. We still called them “portable computers”. I’ve come a long way in two decades.

  3. This topic stirs some great memories of converting from typewriters to PCs. I remember there being a LAW in the syllabus that you could not print any papers from a dot-matrix printer. You had to type it otherwise. The library was banking – to print at the laser jet cost like $30.00 a page and the margins were always off. My kids will never understand.

    1. Don’t you wish you just had an old typewriter sometimes? Like every time the printer runs out of ink at just the wrong time or paper gets jammed in the feeder?

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