It was very sad to hear in the news that Vice President Al Gore and his wife Tipper had announced that they were separating, sadder yet is the fact that it has just been two weeks since they celebrated their fortieth anniversary. The number “forty” appears throughout the Scriptures, typically for a long and sometimes difficult period through which God’s people must persevere. “Forty” is a long time–either to struggle, or to find redemption. Usually both.
In Noah’s day it rained for forty days and forty nights. Moses got involved with God’s people when he was forty years old, forty years later he led them out of Egypt in a great Exodus, he spent forty days on Mount Sinai meeting with God, and after forty years in the wilderness God’s people arrived in the promised land and Moses was buried. When we get to the New Testament, we find Jesus, who is in some ways a new Moses, going out into his own wilderness experience for forty days and forty nights, and, after his resurrection, spending what must have been forty remarkable days with his disciples before ascending to heaven.
So what does it all mean? “Forty” is the number of sojourn. Consider these questions: have I gone through long periods when I really needed to know that God was there with me? Do I want to have his guidance for the long haul in my life? When I enter the wilderness experiences of life, how will I know he is there? Are there stretches of time in which I can devote myself to seeking God in some special way?
I am writing this just up the road from the small country church where Ingrid and I were wed thirty-five years ago this week. I can hardly believe it. We were very young and poor at the time so the flowers in the white steepled church were lilacs hand-picked from the nearby fields earlier that day. Lots of lilacs. Pungent lilacs. After all these years when I first get a whiff of lilacs in the first week of June I get a nervous knot in my stomach and a clammy feeling in the palms of my hands. No kidding. I am right back there. Standing at the back of the church, steeple bell ringing as one of the ushers pulls the rope. Exhilaration and fear. Time to walk the aisle. And now, thirty-five years later I marvel at how many experiences we have had together, thousands of miles traveled, hundreds of friends, babies become children become teens become adults. Storms and calm. Challenge and redemption. Love in ever-changing forms. Better today than before.
Today I find myself thinking especially of those of you who are leaders in your part of the world. You know the joys, the labor, the challenges, the rewards, the struggles. If you’ve been a leader for a long time you have wisdom to share–lessons learned the easy way, and lessons learned the hard way. May I encourage you today–hang on!
On the other side of forty is a promise.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.
I hope you’ll follow along with The Brook Network because you will have something to share that will help someone else–and I know you’ll be helped by others in the network. Use the “Stay Connected” box at the top to get the weekly update.
Share with someone else…