Sharper Focus “Amazingly made “

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By Kelly Pontsler, Major


“My poor brain cells just can’t absorb one more thing!” That was my thought today as I walked out of the office to head home. After a day spent in conversation and problem solving, peering over multiple piles of papers strewn across the desk, I actually laughed to myself wondering if I’d reached maximum brain cell utilization. Is that even possible? Apparently not!

Writing online in Scientific American in May 2010, Paul Reber (professor of psychology at Northwestern University) explains that we don’t have to worry about running out of brain space in our lifetime:

“The human brain consists of about one billion neurons. Each neuron forms about 1,000 connections to other neurons, amounting to more than a trillion connections. If each neuron could only help store a single memory, running out of space would be a problem. You might have only a few gigabytes of storage space, similar to the space in an iPod or a USB flash drive. Yet neurons combine so that each one helps with many memories at a time, exponentially increasing the brain’s memory storage capacity to something closer to around 2.5 petabytes (or a million gigabytes). For comparison, if your brain worked like a digital video recorder in a television, 2.5 petabytes would be enough to hold three million hours of TV shows. You would have to leave the TV running continuously for more than 300 years to use up all that storage.”

That’s quite a mouthful of explanation but it’s reassuring. There’s still plenty of room up there to absorb new ideas and the names of new friends. I’ve got a way to go before things are completely full up there between the ears. Whew!

Wrapping up my first month in a new appointment, I tell you it’s been a whirlwind ride. Anyone who’s moved house, changed jobs, or changed schools knows what it’s like. There is just so much information to learn. Where are the library and the supermarket? Who do I ask about the computer? Where is my mailbox? Can I park here? I am very proud to report that I have now found the dry cleaners (and in the pouring rain, no less). But between employees and church attenders, I still have about 400 names to learn and that is not going nearly fast enough.

All of that learning can be exhausting. And if I’m honest, I left the office feeling pretty weary today. But just as I finished chuckling to myself about the fading capacity of my brain cells, a line of Scripture flicked through my mind: I praise you because you made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What you have done is wonderful. I know this very well (Ps. 139:14 NCV). Amazingly and wonderfully made.

This was no accidental, haphazard smashing together of some random bits of matter. The human body is an intricately woven tapestry of elements that is constantly growing, developing, absorbing and changing. There are many days that I launch in, hoping that a few bites of toast and a cup of coffee will keep it fueled and firing on all cylinders while I run from meeting to meeting. There are other days when there is time to slow down long enough to really soak things in. And all the while, a mere three pounds of cerebral tissue miraculously record and absorb the observations, information and experiences that are the stuff of life. All of it the evidence of a master designer.

I look forward to putting this weary head on the pillow tonight. And as I do I will lift my own words of praise to the Creator. Amazingly made, the psalmist said. Now that’s something I can wrap my head around.

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