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Numbers

The bible is full of numbers.  I believe God really likes numbers—he even named a book in the Bible after them.  I’ve always liked numbers too.  I’ve been playing with them since I was four. It began with playing cribbage with my uncle, then baseball cards and statistics, multiplication tables, algebra, pursuing an accounting degree in college, and now I work in finance. The importance of numbers is woven throughout my life.

I remember in second grade, I learned my “times tables” quickly and earned fifty cents. It doesn’t seem like much now, but back then I felt I had been rewarded for accomplishing something. I was one of only two in my class to accomplish the feat, and I was proud of myself.

It’s a great feeling when you’re seven, but this pride in my accomplishments and comparison with others became a struggle in my life. It’s an ego issue that I need to be aware of and often fight against.

It seems somewhere in my life my love of numbers became a vanity thing. I believe it might have started in that second grade class when I compared myself to everyone in my class and I felt superior to them.  Eventually I felt the sting of being on the losing side of the numbers game. Fast forward to ninth grade history class (clearly no numbers involved in this subject) and I got a D-minus on an exam. The results were posted for everyone to see.  I felt inferior, stupid and ashamed; this time being one of the last in my class.

But that was just a blip on the screen for this numbers game I was playing. Comparing my numbers with my friends’ numbers to see how I was doing continued throughout high school with my student ranking, how many points I was scoring per game in basketball (or not scoring), how many home runs I hit versus others on my team, my SAT scores . . . there was no stopping it and no one to stop it. I felt like I was on the right side of the numbers game.

Other blips came up in college and as I started working. A earned a whopping 1.78 GPA my first semester of freshman year. Ouch. In my first job as a financial advisor associate at the bank, every week our division office would send out a list of the top five producers (who sold the most in investments) for the previous week so that we all could see who was on top. I longed to be on the top of the list and be recognized.

The continual ranking and comparison was having a negative impact upon my life. If I am being honest, I have to say comparison still does sometimes get the best of me.

I have started a few practices in my life to stop this superior/inferior comparison game:

  1. Know the truth that I am loved by God without having to do anything. “So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 John 4:16).
  2. Seek God above all else. “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). This means focusing on things above not things below. “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth” (Colossians 3:2).
  3. Know God more by praying more and being quiet in his presence.

“…pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Psalm 46:10).

  1. Know I was made by Him for a specific purpose. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).
  2. Limit/eliminate time on social media where a lot of my comparison occurs.

All of this leads me to the only number that truly counts. Number 1. God is to be number one in my life.  He is to be primary, preeminent, the top, and I when recognize God’s proper place, the comparison subsides and I am able to become more and more aware of how much I am loved by Him. My Heavenly Father does not care about comparisons.

How can we start today anew by eliminating comparison in our life, to live the life we were created to live in Christ?

path

Jesus, Saul and the Truth 

The road to Damascus forever changed Saul’s life. He had lived his entire 33 years on the path that he thought was serving God. He was trying, to the best of his ability, to eliminate this new and growing group of people “belonging to the Way” (Acts 9:2b) and that was the purpose of his travel at the time of the interruption that changed his life and gave him his new name—Paul.

There are so many ways Jesus could have “scolded” Paul, but He did not. As He did so many times, Jesus posed a question.

Why?

Jesus did not need to prove He was right or explain himself. Jesus was looking upon His creation, Paul, and interrupted at the perfect time to get him on the path for which he was created.

Paul moved eagerly into the life he was created to live, writing almost half of the New Testament and planting twenty churches.

With this question — “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?”— seven words brought truth into Saul’s life for the very first time and changed him forever. How beautiful!

The right question at the right time can be life changing.

When Jeff asked me “have you ever asked God what He thought you should do?” this brought truth into my own life, possibly for the first time for me as well. My life was interrupted and Jeff, just like Jesus, could have condemned me but he did not.

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:17).

Jesus also did this with Peter (Simon) after he had denied him. “He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” (John 21:16).

I believe Jesus used Jeff to bring truth into my life just like Jesus brought truth into Paul’s life. Sometimes a perfectly timed question can propel us toward the life God created us to live. We often need a nudge to live out the calling for our lives.

What question has been asked of you that propelled you into living the life God created you to live?