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Lent Devotion #3 - The Importance of 40 Days

Lent is a 40-day journey of personal reflection. We don’t know why the early Christians chose 40 days, but most people connect it to the 40 days Jesus was tempted in the desert immediately following his baptism. But is that our only option? What other scriptural stories have a 40-day focus? I went looking.

I found 5 other stories of faith, all which could help us think about our search for grace and peace this season. Once Noah had loaded the ark, it began to rain. And it rained for 40 days and nights. Centuries later Moses is called to lead God’s people out of slavery. After their escape, they camp at the base of Mt. Sinai. Then Moses goes up on the mountain and spends 40 days and nights getting the rules for the road ahead of them. After a long desert trek, Moses and the people come to the edge of the promised land. But instead of going right in, Moses sends spies to check out what is in front of them.  It takes them 40 days and nights. Generations later, the prophet Jonah is called to go to Nineveh, where he is to warn them of God’s unhappiness with them. After he tries to run away, and after his encounter with the whale, Jonah finds himself at Nineveh’s gates. Reluctantly, he warns them that they only have 40 days until God destroys their city. They repent- God forgives- and Jonah complains. Then comes Jesus and 40 days in the wilderness. But there is one more story. What few people ever discuss is what happened after the resurrection. According to scripture, Jesus spent 40 days teaching and preaching until his ascension. I

am not sure that Lent connects exactly with any of these stories, but I think that there is one common denominator in all of them. All of them remind us that peace and grace take time to ripen in our lives. In a world that “worships” instant gratification, patience is not a virtue. But, if we learn to wait upon God, instead of expecting God to act right now as we would like, our peace can withstand the storms of life much better. Pass it on.


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