Earlier this week, on Tuesday, July 13th, our youngest child Andrew celebrated his 40th birthday. It was a wonderful day. Janet and I look forward to celebrating the birthdays of each of our children – especially the birthdays that celebrate the end of an era. Of course, that means that it also signals the beginning of the next season of their lives.
Ten years ago, I wrote a post titled “Into His Thirties” about Andrew coming of age and the biblical importance of turning thirty. I had no idea that I would still be writing these posts ten years later as I welcomed him into his forties! How wonderful that we have had the pleasure of watching Andrew continue his life journey and see the successes he has attained as he completes his fourth decade of life.
As we mature, each decade signals a slightly different perspective on life. In our twenties, we are still considered young, subject to mistakes and not yet really taken seriously. In our thirties, we attain a status of trustworthiness, our leadership starts to form and we grow more secure in our life’s work as we progress toward forty.
But forty is something different. Even though there is no specific reference to the meaning of certain numbers within the Bible, many theologians believe that the number forty has special significance. The Flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus was in the wilderness for 40 days, both King David and King Solomon, David’s son, ruled for 40 years – and Moses lived in the house of Pharaoh for 40 years. In each of these illustrations, it is believed that the number 40 signifies a time of completion. And let’s not forget that the people of God wandered in the desert for 40 years before entering the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua after the passing of Moses.
In the case of Moses, he lived in the desert for 40 years after leaving the house of Pharaoh. Then, God appointed him to lead the people of God out of Egypt and to the Promised Land for another 40 years. Notice that each period of 40 years signified the completion of one season and the start of another. And God used whatever had been taught in the prior 40 years to prepare Moses for the assignments during the next season of his life. It is not lost on theologians that Moses was 120 years old when his earthly life ended – 3 full periods of 40 years each.
And so it is with us. Andrew has completed the first leg of his journey. His next assignment will undoubtedly use the skills and experience that he has acquired during his life so far. God has a plan for each of us and there are several fundamental truths that we should realize about the Father. First, God doesn’t waste anything. That means that what we have learned throughout our lives will be useful in the next chapter of our lives. Next, each of us is at this time and place in history for a specific God given assignment.
That affirms that there is something that we are to accomplish for God that we have been designed to do. That also means that we are prepared better than anybody in eternity past or anybody ever will be in eternity future. Of course, whatever God has designed us to do is very important to Him. So we each have a responsibility to figure out what God has been trying to teach us and the mission that He has prepared us for.
That is what the age of 40 is all about. The start of a new chapter and a new adventure. And there isn’t a time limit here. It takes each of us different amounts of time, in communion with God, to figure out our next steps… but make no mistake, this is the beauty of 40. As the title says, like begins at 40…
We have the tools, education and experience to put our best foot forward. While some folks recount that 40 was a tough year, I think Andrew has accomplished quite a bit and is in a really good place. What a great way to start the next 40 years! Our verse for tonight references Moses’s understudy, Joshua. Joshua, along with others, was sent on a mission to explore the Promised Land and bring back a report to Moses. One of the interesting parts of this story is that Joshua was 40 years old when he was given this assignment.
Joshua tells us, in Joshua 14:7, “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions…” My encouragement this evening is that God wants each of us to trust Him for direction in our lives. My prayer is that Andrew, and all of us, will listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and set our course accordingly. Happy Birthday, Andrew. We love you and can’t wait to see the special things that you will accomplish for the Kingdom in the next season of your life! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…