Forty. This is a number that comes up again and again in the bible. There were 40 days and 40 nights of rain. The Israelites wandered forty years in the desert. Jonah’s message to Nineveh is a warning that in 40 days Nineveh will be destroyed. Jesus was tempted in the desert for 40 days. The ascension of Jesus is 40 days after the Resurrection. Why is the number 40 one that keeps returning in the bible? What is the meaning of this number?
The reality is that each instance where we see this number is a time of preparation. 40 days and 40 nights of rain prepare for a new creation of a society gone wrong. The 40 years of wandering in the desert prepares them for life in the promised land. The 40-day warning to Nineveh is heeded and they prepare for new life. Jesus is tempted in the desert for 40 days to prepare for his ministry. And, while not in the bible, Lent is a period of 40 days. It is a time of preparation. It is a time for us to prepare for a powerful experience of God and the Church in a new way by the way we have sought to make more room for God in our lives.
And so these days of reflection are designed to help us to learn what it is that God is calling us to do to prepare for this new encounter? The purpose of Lent is to remove from our lives what keeps us from the powerful and loving relationship we have with God, and at the same time to help us to make more room in our hearts for Jesus and in our lives for practice of faith in the Church. And so how is it you need to make more room for God in your lives? What is it that keeps you from that relationship? What is it we need to seek to make a part of our lives? Over the next few days we will look to answer some of these questions so we are ready for a fantastic devotion during this season of Lent.