40 days…this Lenten season is 40 days. Have you ever wondered what the significance is of 40 days? Well, it appears a few different times in the bible.
Moses and Elijah both fasted for 40 days…in fact Moses did it before he brought the 10 Commandments down from Mt. Sanai, and then again when the Israelites were turning against each other and God during the exodus. 40 appears again after Moses returns to the Israelites to get them back on track spiritually during the journey to the Promised Land and they complain and grumble so much that their trip ended up being 40 whole years…the trip ended up taking a whole generation to complete.
Jesus spent 40 days fasting in the desert before beginning His life of ministry as well. During that time He struggled with human needs and emotions and was tempted by the enemy numerous times…give up your loyalty, he said, for comfort, pride, power among nations.
40 is how many days we spent observing Lent…in the bible, it is historically a number to signify a really long time.
When we do anything for a really long time, it can get tedious, uncomfortable…we can even find time to question why we are even doing this thing. How many times have you found yourself in my class and stayed in a pose for a long time and thought that maybe I fell asleep instead of directing you to a different position. It may seem sometimes like your in a position for 40 days, eh?
Something happens, though, when we take time to slow down, get uncomfortable, search our hearts for reactions and deeper meanings to reactions that we are having. We have time to process and breathe and come out with a little more clarity, or flexibility of mind and body.
When we hear of Jesus, or Moses, or Elijah spending time away contemplating and fasting from everything for a time (like 40 days), we are told that they did this to pause, to regroup, to return to a deeper relationship with God so that they could listen more closely and lead people with renewed strength and wise counsel by remaining close to God.
This is an opportunity that we have as well. Maybe we are not leading nations, Maybe we don’t have the task of moving people from one land to another. Maybe we don’t have miracles to perform. But our seemingly mundane tasks in this life are all part of a story…God’s story.
We touch lives everyday. We make a difference to the lives of everyone we come in contact with, whether its sharing a smile with the grocery store clerk or encouraging our spouses or children…we have the opportunity to carry on a mission of love towards the Kingdom of God.
In order to do this well, we HAVE TO take time to pull away, be replenished, close down distractions so that we can refocus on God’s story for us, His Word, His life, His desire for our life.
So when you feel like you have been in a position for what seems like 40 years (either on this mat or in life), take the time in that place to be with the Lord and refocus, ask Him what He wants of you, remember what you already know He has asked. Then, when it is time to move again, you will be renewed, restored, stretched, motivated……….and up for the challenge with His strength to guide you.
Wrap it up:
At the end of His 40 days in the wilderness, the enemy was ready to tempt Jesus…perfect timing when His guard is down and He is tired, hungry, and maybe anxious, right?
After having spent time alone with His Father in prayer and fasting, Jesus wasn’t weak. He answered each of the enemy’s temptations with wise, thoughtful answers to quickly shut the enemy down. That is what staying close to God affords. Protection, soundness of mind, less of me and more of Him…take time to be in a desert, fasting place with God this Lent and let His loving hand guide and protect you as He has done before.