Tomorrow I’ll be forty years old.
I should point out that I feel like a young forty, but it’s still forty. Once more around the block, and I’m done. And that’s a sobering thought. What have I accomplished? Who have I become? I can no longer say, “When I grow up, I’m going to…” because I am all grown up (though not all that mature). As Erwin McManus has said, at some point in life being told you have amazing potential is no longer an invitation to reach for the stars but a reminder that you’ve never quite gotten there and that they’ll probably remain just out of reach unless something drastic happens to change either your trajectory, rate of speed, or both.
It’s been an amazing forty years. I grew up in a fantastic Christian home with loving parents and two amazing brothers. I gave my life to Christ when I was eighteen, attended Bible School and Bible College and became a Youth Pastor and got married and had a nine year run at the Winkler MB Church and had three precious kids and watched them grow up till this point. I’m now the Lead Pastor of Dalhousie Community Church. I’ve written three books: A prayer devotional for teens, a parable for everyone (Finding Home: A Parable of Kingdom Life), and a fairy tale for people looking for love (Beloved). I love being a husband, a dad, a pastor, and a writer. I’ve kept my body in reasonable shape, own a house and two vehicles, lead a great Life Group…
…And pray fervently that God and I are just getting warmed up. I want more from my life, want to put more into it. I want to be a better husband. A better father. A better pastor and leader. A successful writer. I want to help catalyze a genuine move of God’s Spirit in God’s people to impact God’s world. I’ve had a great life, so far—and yet, if, in forty years I look back and realize the second half was no more powerful than the first half, I’ll be frustrated to say the least.
So this morning, instead of sleeping in, I showered, shaved, dressed myself, and drove to Starbucks to reflect on my life.
“Where’d you go, Dad?” Noah asked me.
“To Starbucks. To pray.”
“Who’d you go with?”
“I went by myself. With God.”
“I bet he ordered an Americano.”
I chuckled. Shauna would love that one. As I sat at my table, Bible open, journal ready, pen uncapped, I felt prompted to look up the word “forty” in my YouVersion concordance on my iPhone. Did you know:
Noah spent 40 days and nights in the ark. Jacob and Esau were both 40 when they married. Moses began his mission at age 40. He killed someone and went into exile until God showed up in a burning bush… 40 years later. Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. They ate manna for 40 years too. Moses stayed up on Mt. Sinai receiving the 10 commandments for 40 days. The spies explored Canaan for 40 days too. Aaron the priest died 40 years after Israel left Egypt. Joshua was 40 years old when he spied out the land. Israel enjoyed peace for 40 years under three judges’ reigns: Othniel, Gideon, and Samson. Goliath came forward to taunt Israel for forty days. Ish-Bosheth became King of Israel at age 40. David, Solomon, and Joash all reigned as King for 40 years. Elijah once went on the run and took 40 days in the wilderness to arrive at Mt. Horeb. The outer sanctuary of David’s temple was 40 cubits long. Jonah preached, “In 40 days, Nineveh will be overthrown.” Jesus was in the wilderness 40 days being tempted by the devil, and appeared to his disciples for a period of 40 days after his resurrection to teach them about the kingdom of God.
It seems as though 40 seems to signify… time. Enough time. A season, a self contained unit where something specific is accomplished, after which something either comes to an end or begins anew. So there is something symbolic about 40. On one hand, the number is incidental, secondary. It’s amazing to think that my life is broken into God-ordained seasons, that God has a purpose for each season, that things begin and end and begin again.
On the other hand, tell Jesus the forty days he spent in the wilderness was purely symbolic. Tell Noah that the forty days of rain was purely symbolic. Tell Israel that they didn’t actually wander for forty years. It was only symbolic. Right?
Did I mention that I’ll be forty tomorrow?