Prime Questions

I have always like numbers. I have always wondered about numbers. Often, we don’t think about them, just using them for their great functional attributes – keeping score, setting goals, etc. But sometimes we should ask how/why numbers are used. For example, why were Levi’s 501s and WD-40 given those names? Levi Strauss lost all of its records in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. It does not know why 501s are so named. WD-40? It was the name from the product development lab: Water Displacement, 40th formula.

On the loftier reaches of numbers, why the fascination with prime number? You remember, a prime number is a number that has only two factors: 1 and itself. Here are some examples of prime numbers: 2, 3, 5, 7, 11 and so forth. Did you know there is volunteer group, the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS) that uses computing resources to search out prime numbers. The largest known prime as of July 2020 is 282,589,933 − 1 (or M82,589,933 for short) and was discovered on December 7, 2018, by Patrick Laroche. In case you were wondering, when written out long-hand it has 24,862,048 digits. By the way prime numbers have lots of uses, including forming the basis of public key computer security. But I digress.

I have always like numbers. They help out in the kitchen. They form patterns and mystery. Did you know, on average one out of every five verses in Scripture contain a number – sometimes just being a number, sometimes being proposed as a mystery that will reveal the mind of God!

Yesterday I started to think about the number 35,064. That’s how many hours there are in any four year stretch of time. We have a new President of the United States and are beginning another run of 35,064 hours. What will happen during those hours is for God to know and pundits to speculate. But what about the 35,064 hours in the rearview? How did you use them?

Back in the day, as a young aspiring Naval Midshipman seeking entry into the nuclear power training program upon graduation, like all future officers seeking such a path, one had to be interviewed by Adm. Hyman Rickover. In the course of the interview, he thoroughly explained why he viewed athletics as a complete waste of time. This was prompted by my record showing that I was on the varsity swim team. It was late October; we were in the midst of pre-season training and the daily yardage was quite high and so were the hours per day in the pool. The admiral asked how many hours per day I swam. I answered, not realizing the trap had been set when later he asked how many hours per day I studied. While we had different views on the value of swimming, he was asking, how did you use the hours given you.

So, how did you use those 35,064 hours? Did you advocate and lobby for your beliefs, or just complain from the couch? Did you contribute to the uncivil war or did you try to build bridges? Did you turn a blind eye, or did you feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, or any number of things Jesus calls us to do? Did the hours of social media use outweigh prayer, worship, and being God’s light in the world? I suspect there are 24,862,048 similar questions to be asked. After all, these are prime questions.

Certainly, we can ask these same questions of the last 35,064 hours or the last 8,760 hours – or the last 24 hours. But we have to start by asking ourselves the questions.

2 thoughts on “Prime Questions

  1. This article has given me real pause. It has me looking at what I have done with my time? Unfortunately I’m not to happy with my findings.

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