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Going viral

April 9, 2013

  I love computers. I do not understand them one bit. But I use them heavily in my work, where some colleagues still prefer to use paper or a calculator. And I like little better then getting onto the laptop at home, organizing my finances, my music, or surfing the web. But when it comes to all the stressful events of life; death, divorce, marriage, debt, moving house, there is one event which disproportionately and inexplicably towers above them all – computer problems. There is nothing else that has the same ability to turn me into a moody, stressed insomniac. Life itself is ruined.

And recently disaster struck again in the  house. After a short time of complaints from my daughters about the computer’s slow performance (what do you expect ME to do about it?), it finally came to light that there was something wrong – a Trojan.vundo virus had invaded our computer. This in spite of the anti-virus software set to guard the battlements.

First thought is, I’ve got to fix it. Logged on the internet. Typed in Trojan.vundo. Looked for answers. Click. Click. Someone will know – someone will have a fix. But as I said, I do not UNDERSTAND computers. I’m great at using them, but as I read the horror stories of people who had tried to fix the problem themselves, my heart sank. 6 hours to fix it said one. Another talked about the point where he came to the screen of death! I had seen enough. I was not going to fix this myself.

I checked the website for the manufacturer of my anti-virus software, still puzzled that this thing had crawled though the software’s defences. I looked for answers and noted the technical assistance available. My eyes latched onto the phone number which I recognized as one which was free on a weekend with my telephone supplier. The call’s free then – something about a consultation fee though. Oh well – In for a penny, in for £69.95 as the old saying goes.

It’s a London number and an Asian gentleman answers the call. Explains to me all about the fee. Says he’s going to put me through to an advisor. Music plays. Another Asian gentleman, whose name I miss, takes the call. I run through the problem again. The advisor starts to take control, telling me to close programmes and to go into Internet Explorer and to type in his company’s URL (see – I know some of the lingo!). I follow his instructions screen after screen, until finally we come to the moment that could change my life forever. Time to jump!

The exact wording evades me, but the gist is this. Think hard before you click the OK button in the dialogue box. 2 things you need to know. Firstly if you click OK, our advisor will have access to every file on your computer. Secondly, he is going to fix the problem but you may suffer loss of data. It’s now or never. There was no button on the screen which said “if there are any files you do not want the advisor to see, list them now”. It was all or nothing. It would not be possible to say “You dare delete my photos or my Genesis MP3 collection and I’ll sue your corporation for every penny”. Did I want this problem fixed or not? Did I trust the manufacturer to fix the problem? Would I rather put up with a slow, badly infected PC, for the sake of my privacy and holding on to what I held dear? £69.95. I had to trust. I paused, the cursor trembled and hit the OK button. This could be the end of the world.

My life flashed before me and I was transported Tardis like from my daughter’s bedroom to a chat room (not my usual scene I hasten to add). “Advisor Jayakrishnan has entered the room” – I couldn’t see anyone. “Ant has entered the room”. I am told to hang up and leave him to it. A strange thing happens. My computer starts to operate itself. The cursor moves around. New pages and dialogue boxes come up. And Jayakrishnan enters the dark recesses of my computer world. I was right not to do this myself. I have not got a clue what he is doing here. At times the cursor stops and I wonder aloud “doesn’t he know which button to click”. A bathroom needs to be painted, but there is a strange fascination in watching the phantom computer operative at work. Better get on with that painting. I regularly pop in to see what is happening. JK is still hard at work, as incomprehensively as before. There’s disc cleaning going on. There’s defragmentation – I’ve done that myself before.

A phone call to tell me that about 20 – 30 minutes should do it. It’s lunch time and he’s been at it now for 4 hours. I am to await JK’s call. Patiently of course. It’s taking longer than the given time estimate. My mind turns to the chat room. Hang on that must mean that JK and I can communicate! I start to ask for progress reports and explanations of what he is doing, and how the problem may have arisen. I get answers. And then the ‘conversation’ hits another level as JK pipes up “Is it the Arsenal Man U game today”. I tell him I think it is. We learn from each other that he supports Chelsea and Liverpool and I support Plymouth Argyle. He can name a number of our players. I am impressed. The light only dawns when I ask him if he ever goes to see Chelsea or Liverpool. Well, actually no – JK lives in India. So the bizarre journey continues, with a man from India strolling around in my computer and talking about football and cricket. As we pass 3 o’clock, I start passing on live football scores. It’s all very civilized and all very weird. Occasionally we struggle with the language barrier particularly when JK uses the phrase ‘systematic methodology’ – I must improve my English!!

The day grinds on. Another phone call. Another advisor and by 6 o’clock the virus is gone and the computer runs like a dream. 9 hours for two experts – my decision to hand the job over to the expert is thoroughly vindicated.

My mind mulls over the events of the weekend. What have I learnt? Firstly the startling news that you can get a virus even if you have anti-virus software. Secondly, I’m going to increase my efforts to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

But my mind wanders off on to another level. There are other deeper lessons to be learnt here. As terrible as it is to have a computer virus, there are worse messes that we can get ourselves into. Our mistakes, our bad choices, our disobedience can wreak havoc on a scale that a Trojan.vundo could only dream of. The Bible plainly talks about sin and its devastating effects. Hopefully for all of us there comes a time when we recognize the hopeless state we are in. Initially we might try to fix the problem ourselves, but we are doomed to failure. It’s time to hand the job over to our manufacturer, someone we can trust to clean us up.

And even when we are Christians, we still spend so much of our time getting things wrong and ruining all that God has planned for us. Whether we are reaching out to God for the first time, or the 101st time, the moment comes when we have to make the choice. Will we click the OK button? Am I happy for God to have every part of me (He sees it all anyway)? Or are there areas of my life that are ours – none of His business. Am I happy that some data may be lost, or are there possessions, ideals or relationships which are too dear to me to let go? Weighing it all up, would I actually prefer to live with all the mess, akin to deciding I’d actually rather keep the virus and the computer that runs slowly and risks further damage.

For the computer user there was only one logical choice. The same is true in our relationship with God. I clicked the OK button, because I knew the advisor’s credentials. I knew his company could be trusted. God too can be trusted. As Christians we know that to be true, but how strange how we cling on to things which mar our relationship with God, that through Jesus, He has gone to such lengths to create. The choice is still there. Carry on living in the mess, or hand EVERYTHING over to the only one who knows how to fix the problem of the human heart. Ready to click the OK button?

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From → Christianity

One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on Saint Ant.

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