I decided at the beginning of July to do a 40 day exercise challenge. The goal was to do some form of exercise every day for 40 days, and then to drop back to 6 days a week. So far I have done this and I have had mixed results. I am using T-tapp, which I mentioned in previous posts, as my main exercise form. I had really slacked off and had not done it in quite a while, but I know that it works, so I was determined to get myself back into gear.
There is something about 40 days that feels very significant to me. Perhaps it is because of all the Bible references to 40 days. When God called Noah and his family to prepare the ark and to provide food for all the animals that God would bring, he sealed them up and then it rained for 40 days and 40 nights. Of course, Noah and his family were on the ark for well over a year before they were able to disembark. The fingerprints of God in this story all point to Jesus–God’s grace in saving sinners, God’s provision for the needs of his people.
Then there were the 40 years of testing that the Israelite children faced in the wilderness after their exit from Egypt.. They got out into the desert, and instead of trusting the Lord, who had just brought them miraculously through the Red Sea and had destroyed all of Pharaoh’s army, they started doubting and whining and wanting to go back to Egypt. Egypt–where they were slaves, but at least they had food! Never mind that God had provided “what is it” (manna) for them to eat. All they had to do was gather it daily and eat it. The Bible says that their shoes didn’t wear out, and neither did their clothing, and yet, they preferred slavery over the freedom of trusting the Lord. Their world had changed-instead of a harsh taskmaster, they had Yahweh himself to lead them with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night! And still it wasn’t enough for them. They wanted the comfort of bondage.
Jesus had his own 40 days in the wilderness. The Bible tells us that he was baptized by his cousin John the Baptist (who did recognize who Jesus was, at least in part) and then he immediately went into the wilderness where he fasted and was tempted by Satan. I might be able to put myself into Noah’s shoes, or the Israelite children’s shoes, but I cannot fathom what it cost Jesus to win that battle in that desert wilderness. We do know that Jesus was victorious (as He ultimately would be over my sin and death itself!) and that the weapons he used were just the words of truth from His Father.
There are some lessons to be learned from these Biblical accounts if I dig for them. In my own 40 day challenge, I have the opportunity to be free from the Egypt of my plenty (too much food, too much dependency on anything but Jesus, too much short-term comfort) and to go into that wilderness with the Lord. I am not sure I have made the best use of the first part of my 40 days.
I have the opportunity to have Jesus lead me through this desert. I can give Him every temptation, every desire that will not bear fruit. I get to struggle in this with Him. I have to give up my right to have my cake and eat it, too. (Literally!) I have to take control by allowing Jesus to be in control. (Sort of like you find your life by losing it, which I imagine did not make people like Him more when He said it.) I have to recognize that His control is far superior to mine!
This season of life has been difficult. Since the Handy Man’s unemployment began 13 months ago, we have run the gamut of emotions–from upbeat and optimistic to depressed and pessimistic. Most of the time, we are somewhere in between the two extremes. I realize that much like losing weight, this time has been about yielding control. You would think I would have learned this lesson by now. Maybe I am just stubborn. Or maybe the Lord is just using all this to do a work in us that I cannot yet see. I am sure Noah must have felt some uncertainty as he heard the ark groaning in the water while the rain continued to pour and pour and pour. He must have wanted a clue as to the plan. We do know that when he finally exited the ark, he sacrificed to the Lord in a show of worship that was costly and extravagant. (He only had seven of each clean animal, and it says that he took of each kind and made a sacrifice of them.) He did it right. I so want to do it right, too. I want my worship of the Lord to be like Noah’s–a sweet aroma that pleases the Lord.
The Israelite children weren’t so good. Poor Moses went up the mountain to convene with God, and Aaron and the rest fell into a debauched version of worship–fashioning for themselves a golden calf in the midst of an orgy. I suppose they needed to have something of their own creation to worship. I don’t want to be like that.
Today I finished day 27 of my 40 days. I have had to change some of my plan, but with my modified plan, I think I am set to finish the rest of my 40 days. T-tapp founder Teresa Tapp always says that less is more. She, of course, is referring to the fact that doing too much T-tapp is actually counter-productive. But less is more also applies to this spiritual journey. The challenge for me on my 40 day journey is to make it about the Lord changing me, not about about seeing what I can do for myself. Less of me means more of Jesus. And that is a good thing.