40 Is The New You
Forty is the only number in English whose letters appear in alphabetical order. Minus 40 degrees is the only temperature that is same in both Fahrenheit and Celsius. A typical pregnancy actually lasts 40 weeks. The American workweek is, 40 hours. Happy accident? Not really.
Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness; the great flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights; the Jewish people wandered in the desert for 40 years. The number “40” is littered throughout our culture and our Bible.
It is no accident that our Lenten season spans 40 days. The early writers of the Bible leaned on a common understanding that “40” was a significant number, representing transition or change. Forty was often the span of time necessary for renewal and new beginnings.
Lent is a time for introspection, contemplation and prayer. It’s a period of renewal and a new beginning. The practice of giving up something during our 40 day journey into the wilderness of sacrifice is a tangible means of seeking a greater relationship with God. Just as Jesus himself spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness, praying, sacrificing, and resisting, we too must make the journey.
Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. - Hebrews 2:18
Traveling the Lenten road can feel much like the journey of the Israelites, aimlessly wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Do you recall the story, when Moses leaves the people to ascend Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights? He is gone for just over a month and suddenly the Israelites forget God's commands and turned to their old ways. So, the Israelites melted their gold jewelry and fashioned a Golden Calf.
Moses then returns to find the people all out of sorts and their hearts turned away from God. They spent their 40 days worried and doubting. Renewal just didn’t happen. They didn’t make it through the 40 days of renewal - they turned back to themselves and their idols.
We enter into Lenten season to walk through 40 days and nights in the wilderness. We travel the Lenten road for the purpose of renewal and sacrifice rather than doubt and serving ourselves or our idols. Lent is our time to take inventory, pray, and sacrifice our wants in exchange of God’s desires for us.
Our Lenten journey isn’t going to be easy. Marching toward the cross of sacrifice requires complete trust in God. Forty days is a long time! Be advised, the great tempter and accuser will twist your mind and play on your feelings — begging you to quit and give in. But remember Christ and call upon Him when temptations come your way, He has walked the road before you.
The journey through lent leads us to the dark, painful cross, then bursts open the arms of Heaven with the promise of Easter! We are made new through the hope, joy, love, and mercy of God’s grace.
Reflect, repent, and persist. May your 40 day journey lead to a renewal of faith and a new beginning in Christ. What will you choose to sacrifice?
Pray: Almighty God, would you open my eyes to the idols I have fashioned in my life? Give me the courage to put them down and give me the strength to walk the road of sacrifice that leads to forgiveness and grace.