Why does God count?
“What is the price of two sparrows – one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs of your head are numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Matthew 10:29-31
1,001 ... 1,002 ... 1,003...
As I type, I glance outside my window as two sparrows fly by. One sweeps over the Delta Ponds, the other lands on the stop sign directly in front of me. This one, the balancing one, captures my attention. “Don’t fall,” I whisper as I watch him shifting his weight. Ah! I smile and remind myself he has wings.
I pause to consider this numbering the Lord seems to do.
My mother recently endured two major medical crises – each one causing her – and me – to face her possible death. And through the nights, my tears, and my relinquishing, God reminded me that her days are numbered by Him – that she will not leave this earth one day earlier or later than His eternally-designed purpose for her. Yes, God has our number.
But what about the numbering of the hairs on our head? What is that about? Why does the God of the universe know – and want us to know – even this detail matters to Him? Matthew gives us the answer in four simple words:
“So don’t be afraid.”
Contemplating God’s knowing is meant to keep us from fear. But is it only the fear of death? I don’t think so. Sometimes it’s the fear in living.
This morning I learned that my cousin has a new granddaughter…and she has Down Syndrome. I weep over the struggles this little one may face in life and the sadness her family may encounter as they journey with her. And a touch of fear grips me.
I slip over to the National Society of Down Syndrome website and read:
“In every cell in the human body there is a nucleus, where genetic material is stored in genes. Genes carry the codes responsible for all of our inherited traits and are grouped along rod-like structures called chromosomes. Typically, the nucleus of each cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, half of which are inherited from each parent. Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21.”
One minuscule chromosome; its number is 21. And when something goes wrong with it – we can default to fear. From our limited perspective fear makes sense. But there is another view. God sees the bigger picture, and in the seeing, He says, “Don’t be afraid.” If God knows the number of our hair, doesn’t He also know the make-up of our chromosomes? I am believing He has a plan to give courage to this little girl and her loved ones.
How do we make the journey from fear to courage? I watched a young woman take those steps recently.
We met weekly for many months. She invited me to walk with her as she thought about God’s sovereignty – not a lightweight topic for the warm days of summer. Great theologians through the centuries have prayed, talked and written it out. I didn’t know where she would land on the spectrum of God’s pre-ordained design and our free will. Our discussions were lively, respectful, inquisitive, and openhearted.
I’ve spent my own months and years in this same worthwhile meditation, and I was curious what she would conclude.
As winter approached, she was given some devastating health news. We cried and hugged. Then she spoke the words of courage and peace birthed out of Truth: “I’m content,” she said. “God has got this. He knew all along.” She was not afraid.
And I wonder if that’s why God tells us He counts. He wants us to pause and consider the implications of His all-knowing. What could be more detailed than numbering? If we know – and believe this fact about God, can’t we also believe His words: “Don’t be afraid”?
I want to contemplate this further. I’m thinking perhaps this simple truth of His numbering leads us to contentment and then all the way to courage.
In my experience a deep understanding and embracing of a truth often demands some stillness… a quiet, uninterrupted time and place to step outside the noisy demands of life.
Would you consider taking some time to ponder the important questions in your life?
Please join me for a “Dare to Be Still” weekend retreat on the Oregon coast. Our next retreat is January 13-14. Do you wonder what brave adventure you might undertake in 2018, if you started the New Year in God’s presence, uninterrupted?
Dare to Be Still…It’s a DARE, because it takes courage to believe life can go on without you for a couple days and then to believe when you arrive… Jesus will meet you. I promise – both are true.
I invite you to slip over to my website where you can read more about a specific time and place to be still – and receive courage to embrace your unknown future.
God just might bring a sparrow along to teach you more about yourself and His amazing love.
Upcoming Dare to Be Still retreat:
January 13 - 14, 2018
Driftwood Shores, Florence
Registration deadline: December 29
“If you want God to do something new in you, you cannot keep doing the same old thing.”
- Mark Batterson