May 3, 2016
Last night Yvonne and I called our youngest grandson, Spencer, who was celebrating his second birthday. While on the phone Spencer's mom, Mindy, tried to get him to count for us. When he refused to perform, his older sister, Harper, who is almost four, begin to count. As I listened to Harper count I begin to think, she has a whole counting career ahead of her, will feel compelled to keep track of countless things (pun intended) during her life. From her age and how many fingers and toes she has, she will graduate to wins and losses on the basketball court, to her grade scores and G.P.A., to her daily caloric intake, to who owes her what and how much, to all the offenses she has suffered, etc., etc.
If she becomes a writer, she’ll be concerned with how many books she sells. If he becomes a pastor, she’ll monitor how many attend her church. She should become an accountant, she will be counting everyone else's problems, too!
No matter what she goes on to do, she will worry about the numbers until the day she retires. But even then she won’t retire from counting. Instead, she’ll worry about the Stock Market and how much is in her retirement account. Until the day she breathes her last breath, she will be busy worrying and counting, counting and worrying.
Here’s the problem with all of the counting we do: Beyond occasionally counting our blessings, the exercise of keeping track of the numbers in our lives is seldom an act of faith. We are so concerned about the numbers because we depend on them for our sense of accomplishment and self-worth. We keep track so we can compare ourselves with others. We also count because we think we need good numbers to justify ourselves before God. We count out of fear, insecurity, or pride.
We are like David, whom God warned against taking a census of the nation of Israel because He knew the King’s motives were worldly. God didn’t want David to look to, or trust in, the numbers. He wanted him, and He wants us, to look to, and to trust in Him. The truth is, the things we can count, no matter how many of them we may accumulate, are not worthy of our trust. They do not do what we “count on them” to do. They cannot protect us from our fears or justify us in our insecurities. All they really do is channel our faith in the wrong direction.
By contrast, if you can count up to one, that’s all the counting you need to do to put your trust in the Only Person who is worthy of your complete confidence. God is the only one who ever has or ever will protect you. When you put your faith where it belongs, you will stop worrying about the numbers.
God’s grace invites you to stop counting. It calls you to be content with the person God made you to be, and with the call He has placed on your life. It means you don’t need to compare yourself to anyone else to be a success. It means you can stand before God without fear of your failings because you’ve placed your confidence where it belongs, in the “finished” work of Christ.
Steve & Yvonne Dow