Why 40? If you have read my book, Stones from the River Jordan, you know why. But here is an excerpt from that book for those who have not read it:
Now let me stop for a moment and explain something that I think is really cool about reading the Scriptures. There are many references in the Bible to certain key numbers. I call them “holy numbers”. Some of the most common are three, seven, 12, and 40. The number three can be classified as holy perfection like the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The number seven indicates completion and perfection—like the seven days of creation. The number 12 often encompasses the family of God, representing all God’s people, and reminds us of the covenant or unending promise of relationship between God and his people—like the 12 tribes of Israel or the 12 disciples. The number 40 is often a number of cleansing and preparation for the extraordinary—like the flood in the days of Noah which lasted 40 days and 40 nights, or when Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness before He began His ministry.
So the answer to “Why 40?” is that we choose to remember for 40 days in order to be cleansed
In order to be transformed
In order to invite the preparation of the Holy Spirit to make our hearts and minds ready for God to do something extraordinary in our ordinary lives.
In our society today, 40 is a big, scary number.
We laugh, sometimes cry, dress in black, and endure endless jokes when we turn 40. If you haven’t reached that historic point in your history, let me relieve you. It is not that bad. I am 46 years old (ummm, now I am 51!) as I write this blog post.
Unless God has another plan, I am right in the middle of my life. The dreaded “middle age” term applies quite nicely. I am good with it. I, so far, have avoided a mid-life crisis.
While growing up, I was the middle child. Often we find ourselves in the middle of a problem, in the middle of one of life’s storms, in the middle of grief.
In the middle doesn’t feel like a great place to be.
It is like you’ve settled in, not expecting too much.
But this is not God’s plan for us. He doesn’t want us stuck in the middle of mediocrity.
He wants to use that middle place for cleansing and preparation for the extraordinary things to come.
Trust Him. Wait and see. Be still and know that He is God. He is with you. He is for you. He wants to show you how lovingly He can transform you and take you to the high places, to the extraordinary places.