People are drawn to counting things. Numbers quantify and measure and from that they provide a certain sense of control. We measure the temperature on an outside thermometer and then dress to gain some control over the environment. We count the cost of an object and judge its value. We even quantify the heavens by the speed of light, distances by light years and use the formulas of relativity to probe the realm of God's heavenly creation.
During WWII Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of England, used statistics to exaggerate British prospects in the struggle against Nazi Socialism, and so hoped to control and elevate the all important morale of his countrymen. We tend to trust numeric reports.
Of course, numbers create as much anxiety as they do control. The disciples counted all the loaves and fishes that were gathered to feed the hundreds gathered on the hillside to hear Jesus speak. They became certain that there was not enough for all to eat and wanted to beat a retreat, letting each one take care of themselves.
"Everyone has a number," Jake, the young Wall Street newcomer says to his boss. "What's yours?" In other words, how much is enough? When is scarcity no longer a threat? What is the number of success? "More," is all Josh Brolin says as he plays the long experienced broker in the movie "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps." A contemporary brokerage firm commercial these days asks the listener the same question, "What is Your Number?" Every retiree is meant to be challenged to give an answer to the queries of how much is enough.
"Don't waste your energy striving for perishable food like that, " Jesus teaches his disciples after they have miraculously provided bread for all to eat. There is no number that is adequate to the extinguishing of our perceived needs. "Throw your lot in with the One God has sent." (John 6: 29).
Jesus is not a number. Unlike the disciples of old and of so much fundamentalist religious speculation today that wants to quantify salvation and control God, Jesus wants us to throw our lot in with him. When you see him you see God, he would explain. Bet it all! Things change then.
Instead of checking my biking computer to measure the length of today's ride, throwing in with God reveals the gratitude in me for the abundant breath of life felt as I inhale that which no number could provide. Each day God restores our bodies, souls, and lives in ways that are more than enough. "I am the Alpha and the Omega." In God all things have being. Still today no one can count the stars or measure the heavens. There is a God and we are not it. Throw your lot in with Him.