Thursday, February 24, 2005


A light affliction

So far, I've lived an unusually peaceful and uneventful life. Oh, God has taught me a great deal about patience and perseverence, but thankfully he's used relatively light afflictions to accomplish that.

Take, for instance, this hectic week at the office. I'm exhausted just thinking about it, but I'll try to fill you in anyway. :-) The fun began on Tuesday morning. I've known for some time that my office was due for remodeling, so I'd partially packed my stuff, but had procrastinated on the rest because I'd been promised that I'd have a week's advance notice of when I'd need to move to my temporary quarters. Tuesday morning, I got word that the movers would be coming to take away my old furniture the very next morning, so I needed to get everything out by the end of the work day. It was a lot of work, but by God's grace I managed to get everything loaded up on a large metal cart, and with the help of two of my coworkers pushed the cart to my temporary office. Once I got there, all that remained was for me to hook up my desktop and laptop PCs. Now, I've had years and years of experience with unhooking and hooking PCs, so I assumed that if I just took my time and took care to reconnect everything correctly that all would be well.

Wow, was I wrong! :-( The trouble was with my desktop PC. Even though I've had it less than a year, its hard drive started to go flaky partway through the boot, with all sorts of alarming messages about I/O errors. To make the situation even more exciting, I'd gotten to this point in my move just minutes before I had to leave work for an appointment, so I went home not knowing what was in store for me the next morning. Perhaps the trouble was just a loose cable, or maybe it was something worse. Until the next morning, only the Lord knew what was in store.

On this PC, I'd installed two operating systems, Linux and Windows XP, with a menu to choose between the two. This scheme had worked well before I moved the PC, but now the boot menu refused to boot Linux, saying something about how it was beyond 1024 cylinders. "Well, yes it is", I thought, "but you never complained about that before!" On the other hand, I could boot Windows XP, but since I use this PC almost entirely under Linux, that fact didn't bring me much joy. The worst thing of all was that there were files on the Linux part of the hard drive, files such as address books and email folders, for which I had no backups. If I couldn't get the files off that hard drive, they were lost to me forever.

(Yes, yes, I know I should have had backups. I'm a computer professional, so I always tell people to keep backups, but in this case I was both lazy and complacent, spoiled by the stability that I'd enjoyed with my Linux PCs up to that time. Now at last I think I've learned my lesson: hard drives break, so keep backups. :-) )

This brought me to Wednesday night. I went, as always, to my church's midweek service, and got to talking with some of my fellow full-time and part-time nerds. We bounced around various ideas until our resident teenage Linux wizard suggested that I try running a Windows program that could read Linux files. After all, I could boot Windows, couldn't I? It seemed like a crazy idea. In my experience, Windows has caused me many, many headaches and aggravations, but never has it really saved me from a disaster. Still, I was pretty much out of ideas, so I decided I may as well give his idea a try.

Well, it looks as though I owe Bill Gates a thank-you card. :-) On account of a flaky feature of Windows, it managed to disregard the error on my hard drive well enough to read all of my irreplaceable Linux files and copy them to a Windows partition. My data was saved!!! Now all I have to do is install Linux on a new hard drive and copy my data back. Oh yes, I'll be setting up a daily backup scheme, too.

Thus, as on so many occasions in my life, God helped me with a difficult situation in such a way as to make it really a very light affliction, taught me wisdom through it, and brought me out ahead in several ways. Moreover, he'd used past afflictions to teach me the patience and perseverence I'd need to endure this affliction. No, I don't always appreciate the difficult providences he brings into my life, light though they are, but I must admit that he has always been faithful to deliver me out of every one. Therefore, I can be confident that as the last great affliction of my life--death--draws near, that he will make even that terrible foe into nothing, because on account of the finished work of Christ on my behalf he will raise me from death unto life forevermore. At that time, types, shadows, and object lessons will no longer be necessary, but until then, I daresay that I sometimes see glimpses of the great deliverance to come reflected in the smaller deliverances God so graciously grants me daily.

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