Numbers, Math, and Green Beans

“Eat the green beans first,” I told my homeschooled grandson. He grinned. He understood immediately what I meant. It really had nothing to do with vegetables, but everything to do with the math. 

Like cold green beans next to delicious hot fried chicken, math remained on my grandson’s plate for as long as he could shuffle it around.

Neither he nor I have a love for numbers. Nor for green beans. And when his mother, the great teacher of the home and school, offered a choice between doing math first or something else, well, you get it. He did not choose math first. He shoved it to the corner of his plate. 

Have you shoved anything to the corner of your plate recently rather than confront it? If so, you get what I’m talking about. 

Moses, the author of Psalm 90, wrote, “So teach us to number our days, That we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12 NKJV)

How desperately we need that wisdom which figures each day as God’s.  

Life is short, Moses seemed to get that. Life is looooooong. He got that too.  

“Give me the math, Lord,” he seemed to ask. “Count the numbers, add them up.”

In every stage of life, whether young or old, the desire tugs, “Let me know what is worth my time and effort and what is not.”

David in Psalm 39 echoes it with, “O Lord, make me know my end, and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” (Psalm 39:4 ESV) 

And it’s a battle. How we like to shove those uncomfortable pieces we don’t enjoy to the side, subtract them from our lives, or at least put them off for another day. It would be kind of nice to make numbers serve us, move them to our advantage. And it’s always preferable to skip the hard stuff and eat the dessert first. 

“I’ll do it later.”

“I’m too old.”

“But I’m too young.”

“When the kids are grown.”

“The kids have their own lives.”

“Does what I do matter?”

Like a rushing river, life sometimes overwhelms with its swift fullness. Other times it disappears like a vapor. 

But God is a Holy Mathematician. 

Making room for the less important and leaving the imperative to languish is opposite of what I should be doing as the number of my days subtract. I need to put on the jets, to feel the urgency, and sometimes eat the green beans first. God is a Holy Mathematician Click To Tweet

“For a thousand years in Your sight are like yesterday when it is past, And like a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:4 NKJV)

If all of time were a big long line, our slots in it would be razor thin. Our numbers small and seemingly insignificant. But God’s math is just, right and perfect. He numbers with purpose, detail, and value. He counts with love and wisdom. He chooses with purpose and import. His math is never off nor wrong. 

Which goes to show that our math’s not done yet. 

“Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths, and my lifetime is as nothing before you. Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Surely a man goes about as a shadow!” (Psalm 39:5-6 ESV)

Teach us to number our days. Give us the math, Lord.

Jesus calls us to greater devotion, to make our days count. To look beyond what we see, to what will last throughout eternity. He wants to flourish our spiritual growth and for our lives to increasingly model His actions. Each mundane moment. 

From when I awake in the morning, to the time I lay my head down to sleep, it all belongs to Him.  

With my a grandson’s distaste for math, I recognize the value of minute by minute obedience and the lasting consequence of seemingly insignificant decisions.  

God desires the math of our days and the number of our minutes. 

There are things I’d rather let slide until tomorrow that God wants me to work on today. Because in fact, I still don’t like math or green beans. But God is a Holy Mathematician, and faithfulness adds up not just in the big stuff, but also in the minuscule.God desires the math of our days and the number of our minutes Click To Tweet


* Feature Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

21 Replies

  1. Brenda Griswold Reply

    It seems for me it’s either busy days or days I’m wondering what I can do to be on the “right path” that God has for me. Am I filling my days that are just breathes with the right paths? Retire or not? Will there be ministry if I no longer have patients to care for? Do we need my income to survive? Am I trading “best” for “good?” Each day is the Lord’s. I have questions -always, but realize that God’s timing is impeccable. Resting in the Lord vs striving with the Lord… Sometimes I choose the math but often wonder if I chose the wrong thing. Each day is His. I can’t worry about tomorrow, and I know his righteous right hand holds on to me. Thanks Sylvia. I love your thoughts.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Brenda. I love hearing your thoughts too. I am so grateful for friends who truly walk a path of wanting to do what God desires more than anything else. What great wrestlings. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Chris Harms Reply

    I just retired and my “green beans” is getting out of bed when the alarm (my husband) goes off! This will be a good reminder when I wake up – “I need to eat my green beans” & get up with a smile. 🙂 Thanks for the early in the morning post!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Chris, Well happy “green beans!” It’s an adjustment for sure! Thanks for reading and it’s great to hear from you!

  3. Katherine Pasour Reply

    I’ve always tried to complete the tasks I like the least first. That way it’s done and out of the way and I no longer worry about it. Of course there’s is one area I fail–cleaning house or removing clutter. Those unpleasant tasks are the ones I delay. I appreciate the wisdom of your message and enjoyed the analogy to green beans and math (neither are my favorite). Thank you, Sylvia.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Ha! I thought I’d find more defense of green beans! I’m afraid I too have been lagging behind in the cleaning and decluttering. In fact that had an underlying edge to the birth of the post. Thanks Katherine!

  4. Wendy COLVIN Reply

    Thank you for this reminder. Reading your post was a good use of my limited time.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Wendy! I’m glad you found it helpful! I appreciate you taking the extra time to read it and for letting me know you did!

  5. Nancy Reply

    Decluttering…. That hit a nerve. 😬
    ….. I DO love fresh green beans though!!

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Yup. Feeling the need to declutter here too! I’m really surprised I haven’t heard more of an outcry from green bean lovers!

  6. Candyce Carden Reply

    What a fresh perspective for viewing the way we use (or abuse) our time. As a former teacher, I love your green bean and math analogy.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Thanks Candyce. I’m glad you enjoyed the analogy. A teacher’s thumbs up always makes me happy!

  7. J.D. Wininger Reply

    Guess I’m in the minority here Ms. Sylvia. I like both math and green beans. Let us make every second God has given us, count.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Oh, J.D. I’m glad God has made you to balance out the math and green bean haters!! Thanks so much friend. Yes, every second!!

  8. Beckham Reply

    Growing up with an abundance of green beans I didn’t think there would be a time that I would appreciate them as I do now. Math was never a buddy of mine.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      Yes, our garden seemed to produce green beans far too well! Thanks for reading and weighing in!

  9. Anonymous Reply

    I too enjoy green beans, and have been good at math in the past, though I like writing and literature better. As far as numbering our days, even though our days are so short, mere breaths of time, every time we have stronger microscopes, there is more detail there to see. So in our lives, there is so much detail He has arranged, and cares about. God is the God of the infinitesimally small as well as the infinitely large.

    • Sylvia Schroeder Reply

      I love the way you put that…”Every time we have stronger microscopes, there is more detail there to see.” God is God over it all. And He is amazing!

  10. Nancy E. Head Reply

    I have a friend who’s frequently said, “If you eat a frog for breakfast, nothing worse will happen to you for the rest of the day. Do the math first. Thanks and God bless, Sylvia.