The other day, I was standing in front of the mirror and my daughter came up behind me. At first she just stood there all quiet and cute. Then, she said, “Daddy, you don’t look so good.”
Panic sets in. You see, I was already dressed for church and frankly, at my current phase in life, outside of photoshop, computer imaging, airbrushing, detox, and unlimited access to a gym, I looked about as good as I could look. I am now one year north of 40 years old and have graduated from trying to impress anyone. So, I simply turned to my little girl and said, ‘Really? What makes you say that?’
Without hesitation she said, “you have lines under your eyes…you look like you need a nap.”
Ok, I think to myself. No argument from me. After the morning worship service, we’ll come home, eat lunch together and I will do my normal routine…read until I fall asleep on a lazy Sunday afternoon. But, here’s what one of the Bible readings was in church:
“22 And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.
23 When he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brothers, the children of Israel. 24 And seeing one of them being wronged, he defended the oppressed man and avenged him by striking down the Egyptian,” (Acts 7, ESV).”
So, I was excited that a forty year old man stood up for injustice and defended “the oppressed”. Ok, I say to myself, that’s good. But, the verse continues…”by striking down” another man. What? That’s a bit extreme isn’t it? And then, I read the passage again and I think…that’s it…Moses is forty. He’s having a mid-life moment. Normally, he would have defended the oppressed through more peaceful means, but he’s forty and probably has lines under his eyes and probably needs a nap.
So, I decide to check out other forty year olds in the Bible and here is a sampling.
Joshua was forty years old when Moses asked him to go and spy (see Joshua 14:7), Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah (see Genesis 25:19-21), and the evil king Rehoboam, son of wise Solomon was forty one years old when he came to power (see 1 Kings 14).
No pattern there. Or is there?
What does a covert operation, a wedding, and a corrupt politician have in common? And then it hits me….they all can have mid-life moments. That’s got to be it.
“You’re being pessimistic and paranoid,” says my conscience to the rest of my brain and then I continue to myself saying, “besides, the Bible speaks of forty in a mostly positive way, remember?”
So, I pause and think a moment.
Forty years in the wilderness for the children of Israel to escape slavery at the hands of the Egyptians which is preceded by forty days and nights of rain that causes the most destructive flood in human history.
“That’s old testament,” says my optimistic side. Think new.
Forty days of Jesus being all alone in the desert fighting not against other people, but against the devil himself.
Panic sets in. Judgment, wandering in the wilderness, and Satanic temptation all related to forty. I splash water on my face and turn to look at my daughter again.
She’s wearing her ‘church’ sandals and her hair is tied up in to some configuration only her mother knows how to do. She smiles and shows off that a couple of her teeth are missing.
“If Daddy doesn’t look good, maybe I shouldn’t go out in public,” I tell her.
She says nothing.
“Do you think Daddy looks good enough to go to church?” I ask.
“Probably…our memory verse says we’re all sinners,” she replies.
Well…ok, then. Let’s go.