Living by Threes

Three of my Favorite Men: Ryan, Cadence, Rich. March, 2011
Embracing  the Trinity
About 350 B.C., Aristotle wrote, in his Poetics, “A whole is what has a beginning and middle and end.” When I stop and think about it, we frame all kinds of things in threes:

Past, present, future

Small, medium, large (or at Starbucks: tall, grande, venti)
Before, during, after

Morning, noon, night
Mom, dad, and the kids
Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Yesterday, today, tomorrow
The good, the bad, and the ugly
Heaven, earth, hell

And so on.

Writers employ the rule of three, “that suggests that things that come in threes are inherently funnier, more satisfying, or more effective than other numbers of things.” The disciplines of medicine, mathematics, economics, aviation, and computer programming each have a rule of three. Photographers, designers and painters rely on the rule of thirds. Scuba divers follow their own rule of thirds. In baseball, each team is allowed three outs per inning.

Classic dramas are often written in three acts. Novels may be strung together in a trilogy. We learn in school to provide three examples when we write essays.

We see in three dimensions. Matter has three forms: solid, liquid, and vapor. Animals are diurnal, nocturnal, or crepuscular.

It seems God designed us to be drawn to threes. The mystery of our Triune God is beyond my understanding; I ponder God’s simultaneous, enduring existence as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and I cannot quite grasp it.

I wonder whether our omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God planted an irresistible attraction to three in our hearts to draw us to Him, because He is Three.

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (NASB)


  1. In addition to the series of threes and the lists of threes that you mention, God has given us a perfect example of three existing in one.

    In thermodynamics, the “Triple Point” of a substance is the temperature and pressure at which all three phases (gas, liquid, and solid) of that substance coexist in thermodynamic equilibrium – A tri-unity that God has given us that is observable in the physical universe and which we use to define our temperature scales.

  2. That's a wonderful insight, Rich! I love the way God has included hints of His nature in the universe He created–it's like a big treasure hunt.

  3. I am always inspired by your posts and amazed by your insights, but, speaking of threes, let us not forget Huey, Dewey and Louie. 🙂

  4. An excellent point, Red! And we must not forget Manny, Moe, and Jack. 🙂

    Thanks for your kind words.