Numbers seem to define us. How old are you? How many years of schooling have you done? How tall are you? How fat? How much can you lift? How many calories did you eat? How far away is your house? How many lovers have you had? How many hours does it take to get to mom’s? And of course, how much money have you made, how many true friends do you have, how many years left do you have?
What year is it? How many years has it been? How many years will it be?
The New Year, the year of our Lord 2023 is coming soon. What have you done? How many times have you done it?
Cursed by counting everything, we tend to identify with numbers. Of course, numbers are meaningless unless we know what they are counting. We are seemingly lost in a sea of numbers. And numbers bring pressure against our mortal frame. We never really measure up until everything suddenly stops.
But for moments, we love those numbers. The perfect angles of Ludwig Mies van Der Rohe’s buildings which cut the Chicago Skyline. Some say unnatural and cold, but we stare in awe at the lines; simple lines, rectangles and squares somehow dancing.
God loves numbers. He gave Noah and Moses numbers, rectangles and squares. Geometry is from God too. The universe performs like an orchestra directed by some divine, delicious score. Music comes from God too; it is what numbers sound like.
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
William Blake, The Tyger, stanza 1
Yet we live in a crooked world full of bad mathematicians, of which I am foremost. We mess up creation’s symmetry. We introduce absolutes where we have no right and we put commas where they do not belong. We add when we should subtract and subtract when we should add. Like monkeys playing with the master’s tools, we would rather be God for a moment than His servant forever. We corrupt our fearful beauty and angrily do the same to others. We make the one who should be so familiar into a stranger and push Him out of our Eden, not realizing He is immovable, and it is we who have pushed ourselves backward.
So how strange the perfect Creator chooses to place Himself in our delusional boxes as He lay in our manger. Even stranger how He choose to pull His creation back to Himself as He hung on some violent geometrical shapes, cutting the universe’s skyline, drawing sinners to Himself.
Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is One. (Deuteronomy 6:4) Consuming our error in Himself on the cross, Jesus corrects our corruption and pulls us into Himself. God is One. There is no more and no less. There is no slow decay or mistaken-ridden evolution. In Him all things stop and begin. He has pulled you in. The reigning of God is at hand. Repent and believe the Good News.
It does not matter what year it is. It does not matter how many times you have messed up. It does not matter what you are lacking. The counting and recounting ends in Christ. In Him you are One. So, stop counting, eternity has already begun.