Cracking numbers – girlfriends in God
May 15, 2020
A year after Israel's departure from Egypt, the Lord spoke to Moses in the tabernacle in the Sinai desert. On the first day of the second month of this year, he said, “From the entire community of Israel, write down the names of all warriors by their clans and families. List all men who are twenty years old or older and can go to war. You and Aaron must register the troops and you will be supported by a family leader from each tribe. (Numbers 1: 1-4, NLT)
Friend to friend
One of my college summer jobs was in a clothing store. When the manager told the staff that it was time to take stock, my inner groan was loud. At that point, we had to count and record everything in the store. (The store sold baby clothes, so counting socks, rompers, and tiny clothes was tedious.) An inventory was required to assess the theft losses and prepare for a new clothing line. It was irrelevant and boring, but it was a necessary preparation.
In the first chapter of the Book of Numbers we find the Lord asking his people to take stock of their resources. This meant counting people. I have always thought that God is not as interested in numbers as other things, so it is surprising for me to find an entire book with this title. We shouldn't measure our Christian life by numbers, should we? The Pharisees (followers of great rules) in the New Testament did that. They counted the number of times they had prayed and fasted, and they were really great at pointing out the number of other people's mistakes. God wants us to live according to His Spirit, which cannot be measured or attached.
Take a moment to think about all the numbers in your life: cell phone numbers, credit card or ID numbers, the time you have to be somewhere, the number of likes on the picture you posted, your account balance – and let's not even talk about that number on the scale. Numbers are part of our identity, but they can also be the cause of our dissatisfaction, especially if they don't fit together the way we want them to.
While I still believe that God cares about the relationship more than anything, I learn that He uses numbers for his purposes. After all, he counted his people (Numbers 1:46), knows the number of hairs on your head (Matthew 10:30), notes the number of your tears (Psalm 56: 8), and asks us to forgive seventy times seven (Matthew 18 : 22). Numbers reveal things about our lives.
God did not ask His people to figure out how much clothing, gold, shoes, or food they had. He provided her with manna daily and promised that her shoes would not wear out during the wilderness trip. Instead, he told them to count people. The Lord prepared Israel to take the land that he had promised them. He wanted them to know their military strength and organize everyone.
They made it at the record speed of just twenty days because they counted in their own families
and clans with well organized leadership. Their efficient census methods and their bare numbers would boost morale to realize that they were no longer slaves but a powerful army. The census provided order, leadership, resource evaluation, and future planning. These numbers would be important to them if they were to prepare for the upcoming battles.
Are there any challenges in your life? Think for a moment to do a personal census. What resources did God provide you with to prepare for current and future battles? Consider the following:
• Advice from others that you need to look for
• Prayer warriors who will pray for you
• Money that is needed
• Time that is needed
• Physical or spiritual disciplines that you may need to involve
God had already prepared people by teaching them His laws and regulations for worship, food, and community life. Now he wanted them to see that a big part of the prep process was recognizing people's worth. In the past, the Israelites had focused on their lack – complaining about their leaders, their thirst, and the strength of their enemies. God wanted them to see that they had each other. God would be their strength, but he had multiplied them into a powerful army.
Taking stock of Israel's resources was a one-way street that God prepared them to appreciate what they had instead of what they did not. We too can crack the numbers and realize that God has brought people into our lives to help us fight our battles. Let us take stock today and praise Him for the gift of people.
Lord help me count what you have provided in my life. Help me see the people you brought into my life. Thank you for supporting and serving others around me. I want to take stock of what you gave me instead of always focusing on what seems to be missing.
In Jesus name
Now it's your turn
Who is someone God gave you as a resource for your battles? Think of a person who encourages, helps, or sharpens you. Take a moment to thank God for this person and maybe send them a message telling them how much you appreciate them.
More from the friends
People can be an overlooked resource. Numbers are part of our identity, but they can also be the cause of our dissatisfaction, especially if they don't fit together as we would like.
Check out Melissa's 7-day satisfaction project for a new year with fewer complaints and more satisfaction on her website – http://melissaspoelstra.com/contentment-project/
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