By the numbers

blogIMG_8032Numbers. We’re surrounded by them on a day to day basis, and this week’s photo challenge is to capture some numbers.

Numbers swirl by our vision each day via the phone, calculators, and TV remote controls. Numbers attach themselves to our names in addresses, social security and driver’s license identities, bank accounts and credit cards, on our calendars, and even on our do-do lists.

But numbers are not my strong point.  Oh, I can balance my checking account easily enough, but I’d never make it as an accountant and frankly, I’d be bored working with numbers all day long. 

However, I proved to myself just the other day that I can remember numbers many years later.  In order to work with children in a volunteer capacity, it’s necessary to acquire a clearance and to do so, you must list your addresses back to 1975. No easy feat if you can’t remember numbers. 

Hubby needed to complete a clearance application for a project his community club is working on and he asked for my help filling in some of our former addresses. Because we’ve moved 11 times since we were married 30+ years ago, some of the house numbers and zip codes eluded him. 

Not me, I remembered every single one of them.  And then I surprised myself by even recalling the many phone numbers we’ve had in four different states.

So you might think I’m a numbers kind of person, right?  Not really.  Math – never my thing.  I managed to make decent enough grades in that subject in school, but I surely did not enjoy it, especially when it came to classes in higher math like trigonometry. 

But you might say I actually am a ‘by the numbers’ kind of person.

You see, I like my ducks in a row.  Balancing the checkbook to the penny gives me satisfaction, and I will dig in like a dog after a buried bone to find a mistake if there is one, even if it’s only one cent off.

So doing things by the numbers – you know, exactly as the rules, directions, or plans dictate – now that floats my boat. Taking things step by step in sequence.  Yep, I like that.  

And I’ve been that way since I was a kid.  I created “art work” by using those paint by the number kits; I loved playing jacks – a game by numbers; and I tended to obey the rules (well, most of the time!).  As a young adult, I enjoyed doing counted cross stitch or crafting items from patterns or step-by-step directions.

That’s probably why I always feel a bit off, out of step, a tad discombobulated when plans go awry. Not that I don’t like spontaneity, I actually do.  And I don’t fear change.  In many ways, I like breaking away from the norm, altering or modifying the usual.  It’s just that when big obstacles threaten to impede my way often it causes me to lose my balance.  You might say, I tend to wobble unsteadily.

And that’s where my balance beam comes in. I do have to recall some numbers to gain my equilibrium back, set myself aright again.  And numbers I recollect take me to the place of perfect stability – my Bible. 

You could call them emergency numbers because whatever trouble you find yourself in, help exists in God’s Word.  The numbers are available 24/7. No cell phone plan or wi-fi needed. All you have to do is open a Bible.  I found a list of some “emergency numbers” many years ago on a Bible bookmark:

  • When you’re worried, read Matthew 6:19-34
  • When you’re in sorrow, John 14
  • When you’re in danger, Psalm 91
  • When you feel down and out, Romans 8:31
  • When you need peace and rest, Matthew 11:25-30
  • When you’re lonely or fearful, Psalm 23
  • When you feel depressed, Psalm 27
  • When you grow bitter and critical, 1 Corinthians 13
  • When your faith needs stirring, Hebrews 11
  • When the world seems bigger than God, Psalm 90

For me, a number of passages in scripture remind me that the most sovereign God is in control of how this earth spins even when life’s predicaments throw me out of orbit. It reminds me that He who placed the stars in the sky knows my name, knows my circumstances, and cares enough to get me through.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name.  Great is our Lord and mighty in power; his understanding has no limit.” ~ Psalm 147:3-5 New International Version (NIV)

I don’t have to worry and I don’t have to fear because my Savior already knows what throws me off balance and He is there to make my path straight, no matter how many number of times I ask Him. He will never forsake me because He never breaks a promise. 

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. “~ Luke 12:6-8 New International Version (NIV)

Jesus is my balance beam even when I fail to play it by the numbers.  All I have to do is keep reminding myself of the number of times I need to read His Word (daily) and the number of times I need to pray (without ceasing).

I think I’ll still play it by those numbers.