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Do Numbers Count?

Can you imagine going through a day without numbers? We know what time it is because the numbers tell us. We know what temperature it is outside because the numbers tell us. We know how much money we have in the bank because the numbers tell us. We know how many steps we take, how much we weigh, how many miles and minutes before we arrive at our destination because the numbers tell us. Numbers count.

Some people play the odds, watching the numbers like a hawk. Others monitor the stock market with equal attentiveness. Numbers drive many aspects of our lives. Agencies, charities, organizations of every kind pay attention to numbers. How many clients? How many donors? How many hits on the website? Religious bodies are not exempt. Church leaders count noses, dollars, assets and liabilities. Even for faith-based organizations, numbers count.

Do you have any idea what the odds were that you would have ever come into existence? Oh, let's just say a couple million to one. Maybe only one million to one. Well, maybe a thousand to one depending upon the age of your mother. It's pretty insane to think that the odds of you coming into existence were heavily weighted in favor of not. And, miraculously, you are you. Rob Bell writes about this stuff in his book Everything Is Spiritual. He describes the two energies which collide and collaborate in conception: "that indomitable onwardness energy that just keeps going regardless of the odds, and that listening, sensing energy that takes care of the one in danger - these two energies were inextricably intertwined, working together, in harmony, for each of us to be created." Especially then for a human being, numbers count.

Puts a new spin on the value of a person, doesn't it? It's not so much about you being productive; it's that you were ever produced. It's not so much about the wealth you amass; it's about the mass of wealth you are. I'm still waiting for someone to tell me how many human beings have ever existed since the beginning. We can barely know the population at this very moment. And only one you. You who became you entirely against the odds. No wonder Jesus tells a ridiculous story about a shepherd leaving a flock of ninety-nine to go after one missing sheep. And then threw a party when the fold was full again. Always, numbers count.

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