WELCOME TO THE BRAVE NEW CYBERWORLD

I’m still trying to enter the computer and Internet age, but I must admit that even
as I sit and try to punch out something sensible on this nice notebook computer
that the good folks at MyBestYears.com gave me and my mission work, my mind
and hands tend to react as if I’m still touching that Fifties-era manual Royal
typewriter like the one on which I first learned to type.

Granted, my mind and hands don’t work quite as well as they did when I first
entered high school typing class and began pecking out
asdf jkl;, but that’s not
the problem. I just simply don’t
think computer-ese. It's a foreign language to me.
I’ll admit that I’m probably not the top apple in the tree when it comes to typing. There were two
girls in my class that took to it like ducks to water. They were amazing. Both got it immediately,
leaving the rest of the class in a cloud of confusing keyboard diagrams and snarled, tangled
keys and eraser dust.

Within two weeks, both were whizzing through the assignments. One of them reached 30 words
per minute, no mistakes, within the first month. By the end of the third six weeks, both had
broken the impossible sonic barrier of 50 WPM.

RULES ARE RULES
Meanwhile, it took me the better part of my junior year in high school to translate the way I talked
and thought to finally being able to pound out legible sentences on a piece of paper. On our
midterm timed typing exam, I typed the entire page in all capitals. No kidding!

Halfway through the first paragraph, I looked up at the paper on which I was typing and realized,
to my horror, that the shift key was clicked on from the very first word that I’d typed.

No problem, I thought. Maybe the teacher, Miss Cornell, wouldn’t notice. And if she did, she
would likely understand when I explain what happened.

So, undaunted, and not to draw undue attention to the first paragraph, I HUNT-AND-PECKED MY
WAY IN ALL-CAPS THROUGH THE ENTIRE PAGE WE WERE SUPPOSED TO TYPE.

Well, Miss Cornell noticed. Nope, she didn’t understand. Yep, she whipped out the red pencil
and wrote F as big as you please on the top of my ALL-CAP test.

It was a costly mistake, and the price included me not being able to drive to the county seat and
taking the test for my precious driver’s license (nope, my Dad and Mom didn’t understand the
ALL-CAPS midterm exam mistake either!) until the next six weeks grades came out and I had
pulled the bad grade up to a passing one.

My parents were just so Fifties about such things—they actually expected their kids to do well in
school, or else! That included no driving, except on the farm, and no license, no matter what
tack I took or lame explanation I offered. Imagine!

“Rules are rules,” the teacher said. “Follow the instructions exactly.”

“Rules are rules,” my parents echoed. “Do what the teacher says or you don’t drive.”

Well, I did what they said, and I learned the language of asdf jkl; to the point that I could bump
along pretty good by the time I finished my junior year.

A NEW DAY
So, now I’ve been trying to enter the computer age for some time, and with the notebook
computer gift from MyBestYears.com, I’m starting to actually make progress.

I’m not there yet. I often still instinctively pick up my hand to return the imaginary carriage to the
right, then sheepishly look around to make sure no one saw the gesture that is as real to me as
shifting the three-speed gears was on my first rusty Chevrolet Bel-Air.

The whole concept of highlighting letters and phrases, as well as the idea of the F keys totally
escapes me. What demented person invented these things?

And all of the instructions at the top—FILE, EDIT, VIEW, INSERT, FORMAT, TOOLS, TABLE,
WINDOW, HELP—all have all these options that jump out when you click on them. `Way too
much information for me!

The problem is that when you hit HELP, the most mystifying list of search engines and
instructions appears on the screen. I need a HELP key for the HELP section.

Frankly, the only way HELP would work for me is for Miss Cornell to appear on my screen and
tell me exactly what to do when I want to cut and paste, or whatever it is that I’m trying to do at
the time.

At least if I type something ALL-CAPS, I can fix it with the click of a few buttons. That would have
been nice back in high school.

ONLINE ADVENTURES
But if all those word processing things aren’t mystifying enough, going online is. Any time I am
somewhere that has an Internet hook-up (that’s not always a given, considering where I live and
minister), I click online and feel as if I’ve just been dropped onto Mars. Dropped, that is, on my
head—stunned, puzzled, and absolutely overwhelmed with an entirely new dimension!

This Internet thing is amazing, wonderful, stupid, helpful, evil, informative, degrading, inventive,
inspiring, horrible, and did I mention amazing?  Where have I been for the last twenty-five years,
on another planet?

I’ve come to the realization that in some ways, I’m always going to be a junior student in Miss
Cornell’s typing class. It took me awhile to learn to type without jamming up the keys. This is
going to be a lifelong adventure, I’m afraid.

A BETTER KIND OF ONLINE COMMUNICATION
I can see the potential in this brave new online world, and I’ve made a commitment to endure
until I get proficient (shades of my junior year in high school, but at least no one is going to take
away my driver’s license!).

But often, when I’ve been tempted to give up or say !@#$%^&*()~!@#$%^&* as I’ve learned to
maneuver around this notebook computer and the online world, I have stopped to thank God
many times that He doesn’t require anything resembling the computer language barriers that all
of us have experienced as we’ve learned to shuffle
around in the cyberworld.

I’m so glad that when humans find a way to make things more and more complicated, Jesus
Christ taught His disciples to communicate with Almighty God in the most simple of terms:

    In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your
    kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily
    bread. And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into
    temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and
    the glory forever. Amen.  —Matthew 6:9-13

When the ways of the world seem complicated, remember that God makes the complicated
simple and do-able. He wiped away all the world’s excuses for miscommunication when He gave
His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross for man’s sins.

He not only opened the door for each of us to enter into fellowship with Him, but He actually
stands at a person’s heart’s door, knocking patiently:

    Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will
    come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.  —Revelation 3:20

I’ll admit, I’ve still got a long ways to go with this computer-challenge I’m facing. But I’m committed
to doing it so I can communicate better with you and not have to depend upon snail-mail, as us
computer whizkid wannabes say. There are just so many barriers.

Thankfully, God has taken care of the barriers in the realm that really matters, the spiritual world.
He gave His Son for your sins. He made it simple to ask Him into your heart and to communicate
with Him every day. He even provided the best instruction manual ever devised, His Holy Word,
for your daily benefit.

Now, if I can only figure out how to use one of those online Bible computer programs, I’m really
going to be zooming! Miss Cornell would be proud.
FROM THE BEST BOOK

But as many as received Him, to
them He gave the right to become
children of God, to those who
believe in His name.
     —John 1:12
THE COUNTRY
PARSON,
Benjamin
Parsons,
has tended to
hurts and hearts
in North
America's most
remote frontier
regions, including
the Pacific
Northwest, the
Canadian Rockies
and Alaska.
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