After I survived the monster who taught seventh grade Pre-Algebra I settled down to enjoy math. I found comfort in the single answer problems, more so than in the “who knows what the teacher likes” uncertainty of essays, reports, and projects in other classes. One had to follow a process in working math problems, and that became easier with practice. Of course, careless math errors (CMEs) had a way of tossing monkey wrenches into the works once in a while. Scratch paper, a good eraser, and a steady supply of #2 pencils were my closest companions until my Texas Instruments hand-held calculator joined the team.
The study of math aided greatly in later courses on science, chemistry, and physics. And Mr. Bennett’s willingness to turn senior study hall into a crash course on college Calculus gave me a boost as I migrated to study engineering at the now defunct West Virginia Institute of Technology. I earned a few shekels as a math tutor, and had the privilege of helping a professor through his summer school calculus course. What a joy to discover that fall that he would be my instructor in the mandatory sociology course I had to take as an “elective”.
The process of learning never ends, and the skills I learned in math classes continue to aid in my discovery though I never understood nor have I ever used triple integrals in spherical coordinates. Through the years of immersion in mathematics I absorbed the values of some constants including Euler’s number e, the speed of light c, the acceleration due to gravity g, and of course the constant we celebrate today, Archimedes’ constant pi. As far as I know pi is the only constant to have its own holiday celebrated by nerds worldwide.
We live in a world where the constants seem to be churn, hatred, corruption, factions, and selfishness. How easy it is to adopt a negative outlook, yet we are certainly not the first generation to face such challenges. In the Apostle Paul’s last letter to Timothy the aging mentor warned his apprentice of the hard times ahead. Take a slow read through 2 Timothy 3:1-9 and see Paul’s timely description.
Where would Timothy anchor himself and his ministry so that he would not be swept away with that flood of adversity? Paul pointed Timothy back to his heritage. Timothy had enjoyed the blessings of a godly grandmother, Lois, and a godly mother, Eunice who took care to instruct the young man in matters of faith and knowledge of the scriptures. Paul reminded him (in a verse that has the reference 3:14 for my fellow nerds!) of the place of constancy.
But you must remain faithful to the things you have been taught. You know they are true, for you know you can trust those who taught you.
2 Timothy 3:14 NLT
You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood…
2 Timothy 3:15 NLT Selected
Why could Paul view Scripture as an unchanging constant, a certainty, and bedrock for faith? Paul understood that Scripture reflects the nature of the Author, God, who is Himself unchanging.
James, the half-brother of Jesus and one of the leaders of the first church, painted God this way.
Whatever is good and perfect comes down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
James 1:17 NLT
And the unnamed author of Hebrews expressed his confidence in the nature of Jesus, God’s Son.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Hebrews 13:8 NLT
As we chuckle over the bizarre ways pi is celebrated today, perhaps we can take a few moments to thank the True Constant for His unchanging nature.
Happy Pi Day!