I woke up this morning to the realization that we will be boarding our plane in just 40 days. I'm sure there is some significance to this day. I feel like I should "do" something for the next 40 days - exercise, fast, pray...something spiritual or good. I thought about "40 days to lose my blubber", but I hear African people think it's good to be fat. It might not be true but it sounds good to me. I want Drew to get the most respect he can for his "healthy" wife so I will forgo the diet. We could use 40 days of prayer, so feel free to pray for us. We have so much going on during the next 40 days, I could just call it "40 days of Freaking Out". Again, prayer would be good.
All kidding aside, 40 is a significant number in many ways. I googled "40 days" and there were 159,000,000,000 sites to choose from, many of these were spiritual in nature. For some reason, God used 40 days in many of the events that happened throughout the Bible. Many of those events were tied to times of trial and testing. Think of Noah, after obeying God and building the ark, it rained for 40 days. I would guess that 40 days was not a time of rejoicing (even though his family was saved), but rather a time of adjusting and grieving the loss of the life they knew. The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. This happened after their spies checked out Canaan (the land flowing with milk and honey) for 40 days and were too fearful to trust God. Jesus was tested in the wilderness for 40 days at the beginning of his ministry. Jesus appeared to people for 40 days after his resurrection, a time of great confusion to the early Christians. There are many more examples but I think you get the idea. 40 days was a good amount of time to get people's attention...and 40 years would definitely get a point across.
Many people today celebrate the Advent season, which was originally 40 days. Advent is the weeks leading up to Christmas that is a time of reflecting on the events leading up to the first Christmas. It's a time of getting our eyes off of our selfish desires and focusing on others. As a family we have followed different Advent reading plans over the years. The time leading up to Christmas takes on a deeper meaning and gives us a greater appreciation for the significance of the birth of Jesus. It wasn't just a random event but was foretold throughout the Old Testament. We anticipate Christmas morning with excitement, not just on getting present, but the realization that WHO we live for was born on this day. If it were not for the personal relationship I have with Jesus, I would have no desire to even go to Africa.
The season of Lent is the 40 days leading up to the death and resurrection of Christ. Some use this time to give up something or let go. I like the idea of that as we are leading up to our trip. I want to use these next 40 days to prepare my heart for all that God has in store for our family. I also want to begin the process of "letting go". Letting go of my rights, my possessions and my expectations. This last week has been a time of struggle for me and I feel like I am in a battle. I want to use this time to prepare for a continued battle, one where I am not in my familiar surroundings.
Even though I know the battle will be happening, I am excited because I am not in this battle alone. I also know that you can have joy in the middle of the hardest times. I am looking forward with JOY to our time in Africa. Starting today, I am choosing to have "40 days of Joy".