Monday, March 12, 2012


You're just a number...or perhaps more so, a collection of numbers.

Today, one of my adult students told our class about her weekend. She had set up a meeting with a distinguished math professor in an unfamiliar city. However, she wasn't worried in the least, since she knew where she was going, and had her cell just in case something went wrong.

Well, a lot went wrong...but it all started when she realized she'd left her cell phone, at home. The thing that was supposed to be her life-line, in case of emergency, caused the emergency when she left it at home. In addition, she had entered the wrong address into her GPS and thus ended up in the wrong place.

She was already late for her meeting, so she frantically searched for a pay phone. I'm not sure about where you live, but in South Korea, pay phones are few and far between. Once she finally found it, the only relevant phone number she could remember (because she didn't have her cell phone, on which she keeps her address book) was her husband's work number. So, she called him at work, explained the situation to him, had him call his co-worker's wife and explain the situation to her, so that she could contact the math professor and explain the situation to him...

...all because her trust in technology let her down.

Listening to her story, I realized that if I had been in the same situation, I'd have been just as screwed...more so, since I don't speak Korean, don't have any phone numbers in Korea memorized and couldn't call anyone outside the country from a pay phone...or even a borrowed cell phone! I realized that I don't even have my wife's cell number memorized...not my work number, not my church's phone number, not my best friend's home numbers...

If I ever found myself in an emergency situation with neither my iPod nor my cell phone, I'd truly be up a tributary comprised of fecal matter, without any sort of steering apparatus.

Then I realized that there are numbers which are just as important to have memorized as phone numbers (perhaps even more so) - 
  • your social security or social insurance number
  • your passport number
  • your driver's license number
  • your alien residency number
  • your debit / credit card numbers
  • your address (when you live in a foreign land it's not always as easy to know your address)

These numbers are not only extremely important, they are in many ways your identity. How many times have we seen this premise enacted on film. The protagonist has lost all means of identity, and he or she must somehow prove who they are or suffer defeat at the hands of the antagonist.

This works on a deeper level, too. As Christians, we are sub-protagonists in God's story. We, too,  have a great adversary who labors toward our demise. There are things that we can memorize which act as tools to assist us in our endeavors. Remembering who we are, as children of the King, followers of the Way, worshippers of the Christ - these things are the core of our true identity - will help us to escape the snares of the enemy.

God has a few numbers in mind, too. Let me remind you of a few - 
  • the number of grains of sand on the seashore - equivalent to Abraham's descendants.
  • the number of hairs on your head - the book of Psalms says that God knows every one
  • the number of sparrows in existence at any given time - Jesus says that the Father knows when any one of them falls to the ground, that not one of them dies without his knowledge and that you are ever more valuable to Him than a sparrow. 
  • the number of martyrs that there will be, in the end - the book of Revelation says that He has a number of martyrs in mind, and that the end will not come until the number is completed. 
  • the number of wonders God has done...and His thoughts toward you - in fact, they are too numerous to count. 

There are probably a few numbers that we would do well to care a bit less about, too
-waist size
-net worth

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some phone numbers to memorize. 

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