“Look up at the sky and count the stars—
if indeed you can count them.”
“The very hairs of your head are all numbered.”
I remember that it was with great disappointment that I first learned music had a strong relationship with math. For me, the two were entirely unrelated. Music was integral in my life with its expressively individualistic, imaginative, creative rubatos; high-level math, on the other hand, demanded one answer and one answer only. I could not seem to get along with it. Heaven forbid if I meander through a more picturesque path to achieve the right answer! It was a deep frustration. There was many a school night after Dad came in from the barn chores when I would perch on the arm of his lazy boy chair and let him carry me through to the answer. He could make those numbers obey him just like his herd of cattle would beckon to his call at chore time with “Come boss!” If only I could arrange those numbers as neatly as Dad, lined up in their stanchions, ready for milking out any answer my textbook demanded of me! I would call out Come boss! And those numbers would come running, ready to obey my beck and command. Alas, yet again my imagination found a rabbit trail, and I would fail to lasso those numbers in. They were more like the cows that just about squeezed me to death coming in through the barn door, or the random cow that I accused of head-butting me, knocking the wind out of me. Like math; it just didn’t seem worth the price to me. It didn’t add up.
But there is One who didn’t count the cost on his way to the cross. He didn’t have to, because He had already counted everything. He determined the total. It was significant enough for Him to know at any given time the number of hairs on your head (and that number is perpetually changing). It all has Kingdom perspective and value. “You don’t speak in vain; No syllable empty or void; For once You have spoken, All nature and science follow the sound of Your voice…If creation still obeys You, so will I” (Hillsong United).
With poetic artistry, Jen Wilkin has captured the concepts of God’s infinite attributes in her book None Like Him. Right out of the gates, she addresses God’s love affair with numbers in her chapter “Infinite,” smacking with math:
“We limited humans are lovers of measurement; we number and count, quantify and track…Our compulsion to measure is not a recent development. Ancient peoples tracked the movements of the heavens…they measured the tides and seasons, the passing of time. Measurement is the millennia-old obsession of the limited human, who, perceiving his own limits, seeks to transcend them by quantifying his world” (Wilkin, p.17).
“Any discussion of how God is not like us must begin with an acknowledgement that we are measurable and he is not. God is infinite, unbound by limits. He defies measurement of any king. His limitless news underlies all of his attributes;his power, knowledge, love, and mercy are not merely great, but they are infinitely so, measurelessly so. No one can place any aspect of who God is on a scale or against a yardstick” (Wilkin, p.16).
Yet in the midst of the multitudinous qualities of our infinite creator, the God of the infinite still places value on the just one. We have the trio of parables in Luke 15 to illustrate for us just how much Jesus expresses concern over missing just one. The Parable of the Lost Sheep. The Parable of the Lost Coin. The Parable of the Lost Son. Over and over again, God’s heart beats in concern for just one. Lest you think He doesn’t notice you, place yourself in the midst of those stories. You are among the numbered: counted, sought after, found.
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars; He calls them all by name.
Count it all joy…when you meet trials of various kinds.
I count all things as loss compared to the
surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
…in humility count others more significant than yourselves.
You have kept count of my tossings;
Put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?