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Archive for June 19th, 2013

No, I’m not Buzz Lightyear but I do have a story. I have trouble remembering my age when the following event occurred, eight or nine years old, but I can narrow it down because of the left over beginning writer’s paper I used. One day, probably a Saturday, my father was trimming the English Ivy that lined either side of our driveway and cascaded over the stone wall extending halfway across our front yard. My brother and I were cleaning it up as he cut the ivy, hauling it to the leaf pile in rear. I asked my father, “What is the biggest number that exists?” He replied, “It looks like an eight laid on its side.” That got him off the hook and me in a pickle. I now imagine him grinning to himself about what I would do with that. Afterall, I had expected a name: thousand, million, billion, and so on. It took me several years to realize he had described the symbol for infinity. So I decided to write to the biggest number I could on my leftover beginner’s writing paper from 1st grade, that tan colored paper with dashed lines for forming letters properly. I would write to each 100 on one side of a piece of paper. I vaguely remember knowing questions from my older brother or mother to the effect, “How long are you going to do that?” I remember that I made it to several hundred past ten thousand. I’ve always wanted to understand infinity.

Recently on a hike with my two youngest sons I asked the 19 year-old who is conversant in Calculus and particularly related to my question, limits, “Is it possible to have +∞ (there’s that silly sideways eight: read “infinity”)?”After some exchange back and forth, we agreed that it is mathematically possible. My son then added the insight that it is possible because “we created zero.” Immediately I saw that zero is the center of the mathematical universe. But the question persists: Is it possible to have +∞? Afterall, how is something infinite if it leaves out half of all that exists, namely -∞?

And this contrast is the difference between God’s eternality and our eternal life in Him. He is self-existent always (-∞ to +∞), period. We are finite, existing in Him, having a beginning, and if we be saved in Christ continuing forever to +∞, well past a few hundred over ten thousand. 

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