More Than Just a Number

There was once a Family Feud contestant who was asked, “Name a number you have to memorize.” The contestant blurted out, “Seven!” without really thinking. While it’s a funny answer, they wouldn’t be able to ask that question if there weren’t so many numbers that identified you. Driver’s license, social security, passport, bank account, telephone number, various account numbers, credit cards, school IDs, and the list goes on. While all of these companies have your name on file as well, they don’t go by your name. You’re given a unique identifier, a number that only you have.

God has given you not just one unique identifier, but a whole plethora of them. (BTW, if you’re thinking about the plethora conversation from Three Amigos right now, so am I.) You have DNA that nobody else has, a unique fingerprint, and unique eyes. Nobody else in the history of the world has ever had your exact DNA. Nobody else will ever have it, either. Human DNA has six billion base pairs of proteins, so the possibilities are almost infinite. Even with the approximately 20,000 genes (and falsely assuming that these are all essentially binary; that is, having only two possibilities), that gives us 2^20,000 possible variations, or roughly 3.98 * 10^6020. That’s 398 with 6018 zeroes behind it. Our current population, by comparison, is 6.6 * 10^9.

Think about it for a moment. God loves you enough that He made the odds of there ever being another you so remote as to be absolutely laughable. There could be a trillion generations of people and the chances of there being another like you are less than 1 followed by nearly 3000 zeroes. It’s absolutely incredible to think about. 

And it leads us to one inescapable conclusion: God doesn’t want us to be like everyone else, or even anyone else, for that matter. God made us each to be unique, works of art that He attached His signature to. We are given our DNA, fingerprints, and retinas, yes, but even more than that, He wants us to have a unique adventure with Him, a unique identity with Him, a unique relationship to enjoy with Him.

Just like no parent talks to all of their children the exact same way and has the exact same relationship with them, so God talks to us in different ways and has a different relationship with each of us. That doesn’t mean He’ll tell one person it’s a sin to have premarital sex and another person that it’s totally fine – the law will be the same because holiness is not person- or culture-dependent – it means that He will tell you what you need to hear when you need to hear it. He will guide you along a path that He has designed specifically for you and no one else.

There are many people in the world who have a story similar to mine: parents going through a long and messy divorce when I was young, found my value in my intellect, struggled with self-confidence for years, went to college, got a job, frustrated in relationships, and just generally ticked off at people for having what I wanted and at God for not giving it to me. Yet nobody has been on my exact path except me. Nobody has the exact same mix of friends I do or the same experiences. Nobody has had all the same thoughts and fears and hopes and disappointments. Nobody has said the exact words I’ve said. I’m unique. And God has had me on this path since before I knew Him, through all the times where I hated Him and spewed vitriol at Him at every opportunity, and through all my confusion and pain. He’s never left me once, and His plan already accounted for all my missteps and even my outright rebellions.

And my life is not over, but is just beginning. I’m 31, about to get married (proposed just last week), and have found the confidence that has changed my life dramatically. This is my path. I don’t know where it leads, but I know God has a unique purpose for me, just as He has a unique love for me. He loves you every bit as much as He loves me, but He wants to have a different relationship with us because He designed us to not be the same.

What does this have to do with confidence? Imagine a parent gathering around a dozen children (most of us probably know someone with a family this large or nearly so) and saying, “You’re all the same to me. I love you equally and I am going to talk to you all in the same way.” The love may be there, but there’s something missing. It’s not personal. It’s not unique. And without that uniqueness, it loses some of its value. That parent would have a hard getting one of their kids to believe they’re valuable if that kid is viewed as a carbon copy of everyone else. That parent might have a more difficult time as well with loving and treasuring that child if he believes he has 11 more that are the exact same. 

Rather, every child is unique and has different abilities, proclivities, ambitions, hopes, fears, doubts, and thoughts, all of which conspire to make that child a different person, a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that the parent can’t imagine living without. That’s what God wants for us, for us to believe that we’re different just as He has made us different. When we embrace that He has made us unique, then we can embrace more readily His love for us on a personal level and seek to have a relationship with Him that no one else can copy. It is then that we can embrace Him fully as our Father, our Friend, our King, and our Savior.

So what’s your story? How have you seen God’s hand in it, even before you became a Christian? Do you see God’s unique love for you?


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