In school, I was somewhat a rebel. Does that surprise you? In those days, we didn’t have drugs or gangs. Smoking was not a cool thing to do. The most terrible thing most kids did was not sit quietly in class or fail to wait their turn patiently in line. Get out of line, and you could be sent to the principal’s office, so most kids did what they were told.
I respected authority and did what was expected of me. Most of the time.
Instead of sitting quietly, listening, I asked questions the teacher couldn’t answer. She thought I was sidetracking her lesson, but I really wanted to know.
The most important thing I learned in school was to think and ask questions even if it got me into trouble.
If my thinking wasn’t weird, it was at least unusual, different from the other kids. In algebra and other math-oriented classes, I wanted to work all the problems in my head. To do that, I needed shortcut tricks and ways to picture the process mentally. Since I wanted to do it, I found different ways.
Most kids showed their work on tests, but somehow I got away with not doing that. I just wrote all the answers and turned in the test at least fifteen minutes before anyone else. Showing my work would have been a problem because I hadn’t used the solution methods that were being taught.
Fifty years later, I have no need to multiply in my head two three-digit numbers. I don’t have to remember an area code and seven-digit phone number. I do well to remember my driver’s license and social security numbers. Modern technology has eliminated the need to use my brain that way. But I haven’t lost my reasoning ability.
I can still recognize when something doesn’t add up, and I’m fascinated by biblical statements that won’t create a balanced equation. Either the statement isn’t true, or I’m missing an element of the equation.
Here’s an example of biblically strange math from Proverbs 11:24–25 (NKJV): “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty. The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.”
A few people might say we should accept those words because Solomon was very wise, but the skeptical folks today would say, “Wait, that isn’t right. The more I get, the more I have. Give some of it away, and I have less. I don’t need a math class to know that’s true. Solomon has to be wrong.”
Here’s the difficulty with God’s strange math: you have to believe it and try it to know how true it is. Next week, I’ll show how I balance the equation.