Have I gone mad? Or is it the rest of the world that’s gone crazy? That disturbing question was forced upon me when I was doing some typing on my computer. Inexplicably a pair of scissors, scissors -instead of the intended letter -appeared when I struck a key. That was followed by a pair of spectacles –yes spectacles. What had I done to deserve this?! Something similar happened on another occasion when my computer produced Greek letters. Why? Why? Bemused, I exclaimed, “It’s all Greek to me!” -a phrase we English use when we don’t understand something, but which would be completely intelligible to the inhabitants of that country.
As with the scissors and spectacles I asked myself, “What had I done to provoke my computer to react in such a bizarre and unpredictable manner? More importantly, how could I remedy a text which had become absolutely meaningless, totally useless?” As I pressed different keys no solution appeared. Gradually panic set in, then hysteria. I seemed to be trapped in a world of gobble-di-gook. How could I escape? Would I ever again be able to compose something coherent?
Was I or my computer having a Babel moment? Remember the Biblical story of people, in their pride, building a tower tall enough to reach up to heaven, to God’s realm? What folly to think anyone could reach God by his own efforts! To cut them down to size the Lord knocked over their tower and reduced them to a state of confusion. That was the popular explanation for the present diversity of languages, with the lack of understanding that causes.
My computer and I were certainly sending each other incomprehensible messages! As I typed what seemed to be reasonable my computer responded by babbling nonsense. I hold those Babylonian builders responsible for driving a harmless old Dominican out of his wits!
How does God want me to react to this confusion, to this madness–to my orderly world getting out of control? How did I react? Certainly my confusion revealed how little I knew about the inner workings of a computer. Surprisingly, my problem was solved when I abandoned what seemed to me to be reasonable solutions. Only when I tried what seemed to me to be totally illogical did my computer begin to perform correctly!
Perhaps that’s what God wanted my crazy, wayward computer to teach me. Sometimes the best, or even the only, solution is not the most obvious and rational. Frequently God’s wisdom defies human logic. The way He behaves doesn’t seem to make sense. We are baffled; we are confused when things go wrong in our lives, when our lives descend into chaos. We panic when we feel overwhelmed and can find no answer. Desperately we cry, “Lord, save me. I’m sinking.”
So how did He reply to our longing for Him to rescue us from the destructive powers of sin and death? To us God’s solution seems absolute madness. Not one of us would have thought the answer would lie in the Son of God Himself becoming man, living amongst us, dying on the cross and rising from the dead. God’s ways are certainly not our ways! Realizing this, St. Paul exclaimed with wonder, “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways! 34 ‘For who has known the mind of the Lord?” ( Rom. 11.33-36). When speaking of the crucifixion Paul even had the temerity to exclaim, “God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength,” (1 Cor. 1. 25).
By accidentally stumbling on a solution to my wayward computer God wanted to remind me of the limits of my understanding, even of computers, still less of the mysteries of life and death, pain and suffering. Humbly I must admit that I am bewildered and confused. Humbly I must trust in God’s infinite wisdom, which defies human logic.
And from the builders of the tower of Babel I must realize that it’s folly to try to reach God by my own efforts. Only He can raise me up to share His divine life and happiness. My computer has taught me to recognize my limitations. Now with Paul I can rejoice in my weakness and lack of understanding. With him I can say, “Over to You,” as I rely on God’s wisdom and strength, not my own. This kind of humility is not humiliating if it draws me close to God!
Our next posting will be on 9th Nov.