Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Endless (01/09/14)
TITLE: One, Two, Three, Four...
By Laura Hawbaker
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I was in third grade when I discovered the amazing fact that numbers go on and on forever. I thought that surely the googol, a one followed by 100 zeros was the biggest number in the world. But Mrs. Clark informed me I could always add one more and then one more and then one more. In fact, there was such a thing as a googolplex, one followed by a googol of zeros! This endless list of numbers stretching on and on fascinated me.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have spent so much time pondering the unending row of zeros and spent a little more time memorizing the basic math facts. Oh, how I struggled to make numbers do what they were supposed to do. One little mistake, like forgetting that 7 x 8 was 56 and not 54, just threw the whole thing off! Failing to keep digits neat and in orderly rows led to confusion and frustration. Was that a four or a nine? Straggly columns of numbers in the long division problems were a nightmare! “Keep your numbers neat, write carefully.” Mrs. Clark would encourage, but alas, my pages would be smudged with eraser marks and tears. My final answer might be only one or two numbers off, but I learned that close doesn’t count in math.
Story problems added their own special brand of frustration. This mixing of a good story and numbers confused my brain. Did Sally really care how many apples she had left over when she gave some to Tom? I was more interested in why Tom wanted Sally’s apples in the first place. But instead of writing an interesting story I had to figure out if I was supposed to add, subtract or multiply. Grrr.
A junior high math teacher who dearly loved math returned some of my earlier fascination with numbers. She brought to light the amazing patterns found in math: the delightful power of ten, the mysterious nine tricks, doubling and divisibility rules.
High school algebra introduced another level of numbers including solving for the allusive x. I’m sure I asked the age old question that every algebra student (except the math nerds) asks, “When will I ever need to know this?” In all honesty, I don’t think I factored a single equation from the time I finished tenth grade algebra until I taught factoring to my homeschooled children. They asked the same question and I told them, “It is good for your character.” So there.
When I started keeping books for my husband’s business, I realized third grade math rules still apply. Writing neat numbers, keeping columns straight and properly placing decimals is VERY important. Business math also brought back the frustration of making numbers do what they are supposed to do. The IRS isn’t very creative when it comes to tax numbers. I shed a few tears of frustration until I discovered there are a strange (but wonderful) group of people in the world who actually enjoy crunching numbers. I am happy to pay a CPA and a payroll processor to keep my numbers in order. This keeps the tax man happy too.
Numbers, frustrating and fascinating, are a part of God’s world. They represent both his orderliness and his eternalness. We are also told in Psalms to number our days, reminding us to live purposefully because when our days end, eternity begins. Psalm 48:14 says, “For this is our God forever and ever; he will be our guide even unto death.” KKV Our God is there for us in the frustration of daily living and in the forever and forever of eternity.
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