God don’t do math

Some of us love numbers!
More than one of us in our home love to play with numbers, whether it be in a Sudoku or more recently, working out equations about the force of water. Unfortunately, in our house, none love to balance the books or pay the bills, reconcile accounts or collect info for the tax man.

But, in more than 20 years of paying bills, feeding a growing family and surviving on grant funding (and very generous family) there has only been one time when we almost went hungry – at the same time that we didn’t trust God enough to give Him a tenth of what we had.

This was only one instance that has helped me come to the conclusion that

“God don’t do maths”.

Please pardon the grammar – but I can hear my African-American friends singing this in chorus! Certainly, God’s method of mathematics is not taught in any conventional business or accounting course.
Let’s look at some examples:

Many parents expecting their second child have told me of their fear of not being able to love their next child as much as they’ve loved their first. Every time, God has shown them that He is the God of multiplication – not division.

Ask any parent of multiple children and you discover an incredible capacity to love more – not less, with each child.

Love grows the more you give it away!

It’s a bit like Elijah and the widow who was about to make the last meal for her son and herself, from the tiny bit of flour and oil that she had. She gave to Elijah, and her flour and oil never ran out. It’s like Jesus feeding the 5000 (plus women and children) from 5 loaves and 2 fish – and collecting 12 baskets of left-overs. God don’t do maths!

What about time? Yesterday was one of those days when I had more things to do than minutes in the day. I had no choice but to stop and take a breath prayer.
I breathed, and God-incidentally, I remembered Elisabeth Elliot’s words,
“I have only one thing to do today. That is God’s will, and He will enable me to do it.”
“OK God!” I breathed and my heart remembered,
“Be still and know that I am God!”
“What’s going to happen about the catering tonight? I’m handing that one over to You, Lord.”
I settled into what I was doing, taking a quick break for lunch when a couple of youth leaders arrived to do some pre-event planning.
“We’re going shopping for supplies for tonight. Would you like us to pick up something?”

The next morning, Jan from my favourite coffee shop, where I’ve been going for four years, offered her un-sold muffins for our youth group on Friday nights. I’d not asked – and she’d never offered before. It wasn’t until then that I realised that God had answered my prayer – twice – without me even acknowledging Him. I’d been so caught up with how much time I didn’t have, that I forgot to notice that God had taken over what I’d asked Him to.

We get so caught up following two little sticks chasing each other around a dial we carry on our wrists that we forget that our best friend is the creator of the universe. God is not bound by the rules of our human-measured concept of time. If our universe was limited to our meagre understanding of how it works, what a small universe we would inhabit.

We live in a very weird period of time in that “If we don’t understand it – we can’t believe it!” There goes the theory of relativity, space, gravity, healing, my lap-top computer, the egg I just ate for breakfast…the children I bore.

We argue about periods of time, about budgets, about our capacity to do things. In our determination to work things out mathematically- logically, we diminish the world’s capacity to see God because we diminish Him.

We limit God’s work to our own imagination.

As Elisabeth Elliot once said, “The God who is small enough to be understood is too small to be worshiped”.

Whether or not it fits into a mathematical equation or our understanding, God’s will, will be done. Our capacity to love Him and achieve great things in His name can only grow as we take the opportunities He gives us to learn to rely on Him, rather than on our budgets and imagination.

I guess it works in reverse too. Look at the lives of the rich and famous who hoard up stuff for themselves and end up having to cocoon themselves away for peace and quiet. Those who gather everything for themselves tend to diminish in what they really have. Life seemingly implodes.

Look at a church that limits itself to the same budget it’s had for years. It makes as much sense as a flower keeping its petals in its bud to conserve energy, or a chrysalis deciding to stay where it is safe and dark, rather that breaking out to become a butterfly.

Mathematically, a butterfly cannot fit into a chrysalis.

Mathematically, a flower cannot fit into a flower-bud.

Mathematically, faith as big as a mustard seed cannot move a mountain.

Mathematically, forgiveness doesn’t add up.

Mathematically, we cannot love and keep giving it away.

What would happen in our homes, in our congregations, in our communities if before we set out to do something, we stopped to take notice of God’s economy?

As I heard in a sermon a couple of weeks ago, “God’s economy is different. It’s upside-down.”

Love grows the more you give it away.

God gives.

God gives everything.

God is glorified in His generosity.

God loves everybody – and His love of everybody enables Him to be generous with His love.

What would happen if we stopped counting the wrongs anybody had done against us, and loved and forgave them anyway? What would happen if we chose to love because God first loved us?

This week, this month, this year, let us together consider the lilies of the field and the birds of the air, and trust God – Rely on Him – and not on our own mathematical equations.

 

Originally published as:

“God don’t do maths” in The Lutheran, May 2010 Vol44 No4 P154-155

Possums: Ideas for New Books and Movie Titles inspired by our evictees

New ideas for book/movie titles: inspired by our uninvited and now evicted guests.

 

Further suggestions welcome.

 

Books

  1. Possum Mischief – Mem Possum
  2. War of the Possums – H. G. Wells
  3. The Curious Incident of the Possum in the night-time – Mark Haddon
  4. The Girl with the Possum Tattoo – Steig Larsson
  5. The Fault in our Possums – John Green
  6. Possums and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  7. To Kill a Possum – Harper Lee
  8. Lord of the Possums – J. R. R. Tolkein
  9. Tomorrow When the Possum began – John Marsden
  10. The Importance of being a Possum – Oscar Wilde
  11. Little House on the Possum – Laura Ingalls Wilder
  12. The Possums Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  13. The Game of Possums – George R. R. Martin

 

Movies

  1. Mad Possum
  2. Possum Wars

 

 

Welcome to my blog

01D_7112 - Copy (2)
Welcome to my blog.

I write, quilt, draw, and try anything vaguely creative to connect people to community, and concepts to action.

Why a blog?
Because I find myself  ‘in-between’
. caring for kids and caring for parents
. science and religion and politics…Can they ever work together?
. career and vocation and stay-at-home-parents and carers
. being available and staying focused

…and I spend a lot of time wondering about it, and find it helpful to write out my thoughts.

I sit on the fence a lot of the time. It’s not usually a very comfortable place to sit. But hey, it gives me a great opportunity to experience both sides of the same sandwich and a lot of the stuff in the middle that keeps life interesting.

16 years ago, I accidentally discovered that others wonder about the same things – when they began to read my articles in ‘The Lutheran’, the national magazine of the the Lutheran Church of Australia. It’s because of the readers’ response that I’ve begun this blog.

Stay a while – even if it’s just long enough for a new taste or a different perspective.

And let me know what you think.

Julie

SMS Reply YES

To anyone who has made and kept annual specialist appointments, our hats go off to you. They require the skill of an orchestra conductor to co-ordinate and choreograph.

First up, you have to remember them. That means having some system of diarizing events that occur only once a year.

That might seem easy to those of us who have reliable computer systems, with even-more-reliable personal assistants. And easy if your reliable computer system doesn’t crash, leaving you completely out of not only diary records, but also, all contacts.

Or easy if you’re happy to carry around not only this year’s calendar, but also next years, committing yourself then, to march around the world with two calendars/diaries, or an electronic version and back-up paper version which will not fail, but may not be conveniently next to you, or within the vicinity of a working pen, when you arrange a visit with Aunt Mary.

So, you end up double-booking other events, vowing to yourself to keep doing the double-shuffle between paper & electronic gizmos each night, or each morning

…until your child phones in distress and needs to be rescued, or the husband calls and announces that he is stranded at the beach because while he was swimming, some needy person has taken the bag that he left on the beach complete with his clothes and car-keys.

And somehow, the diary gets ignored and so do several appointments that you may have been looking forward to but can no longer remember.

IF the office of the specialist is particularly effective at communication, they may have a system of reminders – such as the one we received last week with an option of replying with an   SMS – REPLY YES, or calling to make a different appointment time or date. Sounds easy enough?

Until you remember, within 24 hours of the appointment, that despite the hospital’s Emergency Department having made the initial diagnosis eight years ago, the specialist requires a referral from the local GP – who in all likelihood has never met the patient, but needs to refer the patient who he’s never met, to a specialist he may never have heard of, to review again the situation that the specialist has diagnosed and may/may not have informed the GP about – if in fact the GP is available, and his computer system has not crashed – which, in this particular circumstance, has happened.

Eventually, you are able to make an appointment to see unknown GP who will make referral about unknown patient to unknown specialist about unknown condition – and all the boxes are ticked for the government to approve Medicare payment with the assurance that their system is preventing the specialist from over-servicing.

As parent you also need to ensure that the other parent is informed with adequate warning so they can arrange the morning off.

The child, who is also now old enough to not want to visit and undergo the annual testing regime unnecessarily and remarks ‘If I am a fascination to them – then they can at least ask me!’ also needs to be informed of appointment with new GP and old specialist.
And the school needs to be informed that the child will be late for school to which they respond, ‘Could you please inform your child that they need to report to such and such a place when they arrive then?’

Of course I can.

So, in total,
An SMS to say YES means

Phonecall to husband
Phonecall to GP who has lost computer, so could we please check to see it’s absolutely necessary
Phonecall to specialist to see if the visit to GP is really necessary
Call back GP to make appointment
Inform child of appointment tomorrow
Inform child of appointment with unknown GP today
Inform school of child’s late arrival
Inform child of what to do on late arrival
Then, at last, remember to pick up the referral letter sometime between the GP appointment and specialist appointment (during business hours) and take it to the specialist in the morning.

So, those who doubt that being a parent-at-home gives valid Professional Development and work-experience may be interested to follow around a parent in the process of negotiating a simple annual specialist appointment. They may begin to understand why parents do not find it simple to Reply – YES.

It’s MUCH easier to just respond to a pre-booked annual appointment

SMS REPLY – NO!