A fraction of a second and a spill can cost you a months income. A mere moment I did not pay attention and the wine was splashing over the entire face of my keyboard. I could almost hear the belly of my computer drowning in a crimson bath, soldiers being sucked beneath the closing Red Sea. I swabbed up the fuchsia puddle and buried my laptop in a huge tub of rice, hoping, praying that this white grained grave would not be its last resting place.
I lay in bed that night, replaying the moment over and over. If only one frame of my day had been different, a second delayed or pushed forward. One decision holding a different weight or time frame and this never would have happened. Self hatred and anger pulled its ugly mask over me as I drifted off to sleep. My only hope was in my desperate prayers to God that I would wake up to a functioning computer, merely sleeping in its rice bed. I almost felt it God's obligation. He saw that it was an accident. He has seen how difficult my life has been these past two years. Surely He would have a little grace on my circumstance. Mend what would be so easy for Him to mend. I dreamt of broken wine glasses and the inside of grapes, red and flowing, seeping into the floor boards.
The computer did not even do as much as heave a final breath. I pressed the on button over and over, a gentle push turning into an ugly jab, ending in what made the knob look a bit more like a punching bag than a power source. I felt the anger burning in my chest climb its little ladders into my eyes, escaping down my cheeks. Of course God wouldn't fix this. Why on earth would I begin believing that now?? After all the broken experiences of my life, the split second calamities that have bled all over everything else in my heart, why did I believe that God would fix this damned computer? And greater than the computer, were all the memories now locked forever behind its black, lifeless screen. Every photo of my children's precious lives imprisoned by my one slip of hand. Even more guilt filled me as I thought of the many times I had written on to do lists reminders to back up the files on my computer. The sudden realization of the worth of these visual reminders of my life, my children's lives far out weighed the thought of hassle or strained finances. My pleading for God to fix the computer changed. I did not care about the cost, I cared about the images that would be lost forever. "Lord will you salvage the heart of this machinery. It's true worth in my life, no matter the price?"
The computer itself was doomed. The technician opened the back, took one look and formally closed the coffin. He asked me to wait up front while he checked to see if perhaps the hard drive had somehow dodged the flood, though he seemed doubtful. The front of the Apple store suddenly felt like a waiting room in a hospital. As I waited I prayed for grace. The cost of replacing the computer was so distant to me now. I felt I could almost laugh at this little annoyance, made into an insignificant bump by the grave reality that I might never see the fresh bud of my child's new lips, a tiny flower peeping out from white lenin cloth. I might never again be able to pull my eldest son in my lap and flip through the photographs of his first birthday parties, retelling the stories of each one. Hearing his laughter fold around me, his white hair tucked beneath my chin. Every tiny shell collected and stored, waiting to be reexamined and adored by the ones that found them. These were the treasures that held any worth. This was the source of fervor in my renewed prayer.
And then, as I waited I was compelled to ask myself a question. Perhaps the loss of things is the only way that the Lord can communicate to us what our hearts already know but cannot see? Could it be that it is by His very grace that He breaks the glass around our hearts, and forces us to give way to these spills? That His own blood pouring over us might drown out what is not important? Washing away the insignificant so that we may finally know what is? Are these lessons worth it? Worth the hassle and the expense that we might be filled with true thanksgiving and fervor to keep alive the deep abundance of the soul?
The darker parts of my mind, the prideful greedy sects that roam the streets looking for someone to blame would like to say no. Can I not be enlightened without paying this cost? Why must I lose time and money, experience heartache and misfortune? The braver mercenaries of my thoughts know this answer. They march around the walls of doubt and wait for these very signals to attack the enemy stragglers. To take over the cities of my heart, and claim them for the Father. My clenched fists, holding fast to meaningless objects are freed by loss. I can open up my hands and receive from Him a taste of that which holds true importance. It could not come any other way. I have had these gifts all along, but could not see them. I knew not love until I thought it taken away.
All is for grace. Every instant, both exciting and tormenting is existing that we might empty out our cups and make room for the only thing that will ever fill us up. This is true for every moment. It always has been and always will. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. All I can do is give thanks when I am awake enough to see why, to not let it pass me over by choosing to see the experience alone. And in those precious occasions that we can see, truly see, we are for a moment tasting lasting joy. And we know it is true, because it is against every natural instinct or reaction that we have previously bowed low to.
"How we look determines how we live...if we live." -ann voskamp
The computer technician made his way through the shoppers, and I braced myself for his verdict. "Good news!" he shouted over the tops of their heads. In his hand was the only remaining piece of my computer. Everything else had been deemed useless, but the small square metal in his hand was now all that mattered. "Everything else is lost, but your hard drive was left untouched. It is in perfect condition and can be switched over to your new computer without a problem."
My hand had slipped and I had watched in slow motion as the glass tipped, opening up its mouth and swallowing everything I owned. I had tried to clean it up and dry it out, but I was surrounded by death. Only what was dying was never my true life source. It was by his grace that the encasing be ripped away and for a moment I might hear the good news. For the first time I held the insides of my heart in my hand and it was still alive, untouched by the flood that had wiped away the landscapes that had hidden it. To see it there, outside of its secret places, to be able to hold the unseen, the truly important was worth every penny I had. And to know that it was unharmed, untouched by my own accidents and slips. The very spill I had cursed myself and God for was instead the opportunity that allowed this moment to occur. This is grace. This is love. This is God.
My hard drive was converted over into a new laptop. A new home. Every time I see my computer, something I started out imagining to be a curse is now a priceless reminder. I am once again filled with the hope of joy and all things made new.
"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh." -Ezekial 36:26