For about an hour, I had a very nice, very expensive aluminum paperweight.
In life, some days are very productive, and everything just clicks. Other days, your 4 year old knocks your latte over, spilling it all over your almost brand new MacBook Pro. Today was the latter.
Having asked my little princess not to attempt to climb up into my lap at that particular moment, she nevertheless attempted said climb, resulting in the latte disaster. There was sugary, milky, coffee-flavored liquid everywhere – on the computer, the computer bag, the desk, the floor, and me.
My reaction could not be described as one of my finer parenting moments, as anyone in or near our house could attest. Somewhere in the midst of my pre-schooler’s “teaching moment,” I managed to pick up the laptop and hold it upside down, hoping the liquid would drain out, or at least not seep too far into the guts of the machine. I also alerted everyone nearby that I needed some towels, as my little one sounded the alarm, loudly, that dad had hurt her feelings.
As I held the machine upside down and awaited towels, with what had been a very fine latte now dripping down my arm, I managed to hold down the power button and shut down the machine, which was, at the time, still running. By the time I got the towels and dried off the computer, my precious little doll had mostly calmed down (she’s quick to forgive). I, however, had not.
I love my wife more than you can imagine, but her attempts to console me were…let’s say, “not fruitful.” Eventually, I did calm down enough to assess the situation. That didn’t go well either.
First, I couldn’t find my bag of computer tools – you know, the tiny screwdrivers and gadgets you have to use to get the thing apart. Then, when I did find them, I discovered that Apple has, yet again, changed the type of screw they use to put the blasted things together, and I don’t have the right kind of tiny screwdriver to remove the 10 screws on the bottom of the case. Oh, and I live in Kenya. We don’t have an Apple Store here.
So, after resigning myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to get the case open, I had to hope against hope that the latte infusion hadn’t done much damage. After allowing sufficient drying time, I plugged in the power cable. Nothing. The little LED that usually lights up to indicate that the machine is charging failed to do its thing.
I pressed the power button. Again, nothing. I pressed it again. Still nothing. I pressed it and held it down. Nope. My machine was DOA. I closed the screen and stared at my new paperweight. For the first time since we moved to Kenya, I felt utterly helpless…in a very first world scenario. I couldn’t fix my computer. I couldn’t take it somewhere to be fixed. I couldn’t even buy a replacement for it at a reasonable price. I had reached the end of my capabilities.
As I sat there staring at the shiny aluminum rectangle (which now had a nice coffees smell), I thought about all the work I had done that was now locked up in that machine. We are less than three weeks away from launching a church, and every note and plan was in there.
I knew I had a backup drive. I also knew I hadn’t backed up in the three months we’ve been in Kenya. And I’ve done a lot of work and planning in those three months. It was not a shiny happy moment.
It’s funny, isn’t it, that it’s often only when we reach the end of our rope that we turn to God for help. And that’s just what I did. I prayed something like, “God. Come on. You know we’ve come to Kenya to launch a church that will impact this city. You know how hard I’ve worked on this. You know I’ve been dependent on you, and I’ve tried to follow you closely throughout this journey. I know it’s simple for you to fix this machine. I know whatever is wrong, you can make right. Please, just let it work.” Then I pressed the power button.
The computer whirred to life like nothing was wrong. No hesitation. No funny noises. It just worked.
Having witnessed this miracle, I did what any good pastor would do: I ran to get my backup drive! Yes, I did give thanks along the way, but I still imagined that I might return to my desk to find that my computer had seized up, never to be revived again. Oh me of little faith.
I’m writing this post on my MacBook Pro. The charger now works, even though it didn’t before I prayed. The computer seems to be just fine, even though it was completely dead before I prayed. Some might call it a coincidence, and it may be. But for me, this episode was a reminder that God is there when we are at our weakest, our most frustrated, and at the end of our own abilities.
He was there before that, too. I just didn’t know I needed him.