A simple lesson in place value

I am a homeschool mom. This expands to so much more than grammar and mathematics.

Here’s a little thing about me that you might have picked up on by now.

I teach.

If God had directed or one day directs our family to educate our children in a different fashion, I will still be a homeschool mom.

I cannot get away from teachable moments. I am wired to find what we can learn from each season in which we find ourselves.

That being the case let me teach you a simple lesson.

Follow closely.

What does the following symbol mean?

Are you ready?


Ok. That’s too simple, right?

It’s a one.

Yes, but what does it mean?

That’s pretty simple. It is the symbol we use to represent a single item or number, right?

But what if that “1” had a zero following it?

Duh! That’s 10, right?

But the symbol did not actually change.

Its place and its value did.

We have an understanding that if there is nothing else associated with it, “1” holds the single or “ones” place and has the value of one single item or number.

The place and value completely change for “1” when placed in 3,128, and again when I get $7.13 back at the gas station.

Let me tell you a simple truth. The writer or author of the number actually determines what it means. The writer carefully uses place and value to give any number it’s worth. And it is always understood that EVERY number has a place and a value.

Just like each of us, God has authored our lives in such a way that every single one of us has a place and a value.

There is freedom here.

What if God determined my value instead of social media? What if God determined my place instead of my best intentions? What if I needed to look up instead of in when I try to find my identity?

What if that person that rubs us the wrong way has a value God set instead of our feelings? What if the person who doesn’t deserve our forgiveness has a place God is using to change us in a specific way? What if our seemingly innocent prejudices are flying in the face of the place and value God has set for someone?

The beautiful and challenging thing is that the Author of our salvation, our righteousness, and our faith is the one who determines the place and value of each one of his children.

The beauty is that we cannot change our own worth by actions, attitudes, or accidents (or “on purposes”). The Author, not ourselves, determines that place and value. The “1” in its place is not compared to or determined by the other numbers next it. It is resting in the place and value of the Author.

The challenge is that we will never replace the Author in determining that place and value in others. The Author, not our experience, determines that place and value. The “1” in its place is not determining or measuring the value of those next to it. It is trusting and submitting to the place and value the Author has given to the numbers next to it.

So the next time you think about the elementary principle of place value, may it raise your eyes to the Author who gives place and value to each of his children.

I am praying we accept the beauty and the challenge of that gift today.

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