It has been 129 days since I left American soil. In 40 days and 40 nights, I will reunite with my family, but this time, they will be coming to South Africa!
I feel as though I am coming out of some of my greatest challenges and preparing to walk into some of my greatest victories.
I can’t help but focus on the significance of the number 40 in the bible as I have 40 days left in this season. The number 40 is mentioned 146 times in the bible. I am not surprised to say that when I looked further into these biblical seasons, each had a focus on periods of trial, testing, and probation.
During Moses’ life he lived 40 years in Egypt and 40 years in the desert before God selected him to lead his people out of slavery. Moses was also on Mount Sinai for 40 days and nights, on two separate occasions (Exodus 24:18, 34:1-28), receiving God’s laws. He also sent spies, for 40 days to investigate the land God promised the Israelites as an inheritance (Numbers 13:25, 14:34).
Initially, I thought to myself, 40 days does not seem like much time left. Looking at the calendar, it is not much time, but by the power of God and His timing, substantial things can shift.
For instance, there were 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:3). I cannot imagine a life without that victory! Although 40 days can be simplified to it’s literal meaning of 40 days, that’s all I have left. I want to make the most of every living moment of this challenging season.
A majority of these scriptures that focus on 40 days & 40 nights of trials and tests that end in victory. I have had my fair share of trials and tests as I have been here, but I have also had new friends stand by me through these. I have had friends from home pray over me through every technological barrier until we can get an entire prayer session closed without losing a connection. I have had my family and roommate wait patiently for months to welcome me home. For all of these things, I am so grateful. To my community in America, just 40 days and 40 nights of waiting. To my South African community, just 40 days and 40 nights of making the most of our last days together.
I leave you with this writing on Celebrating The Extraordinary Nature of Everyday Life:
“believe that this way of living, this focus on the present, the daily, the tangible, this intense concentration not on the news headlines but on the flowers growing in your own garden, the children growing in your own home, this way of living has the potential to open up the heavens, to yield a glittering handful of diamonds where a second ago there was coal. This way of living and noticing and building and crafting can crack through the movie sets and soundtracks that keep us waiting for our own life stories to begin, and set us free to observe the lives we have been creating all along without ever realizing it.
I don’t want to wait anymore. I choose to believe that there is nothing more sacred or profound than this day. I choose to believe that there may be a thousand big moments embedded in this day, waiting to be discovered like tiny shards of gold. The big moments are the daily, tiny moments of courage and forgiveness and hope that we grab on to and extend to one another. That’s the drama of life, swirling all around us, and generally I don’t even see it, because I’m too busy waiting to become whatever it is I think I am about to become. The big moments are in every hour, every conversation, every meal, every meeting.
The Heisman Trophy winner knows this. He knows that his big moment was not when they gave him the trophy. It was the thousand times he went to practice instead of going back to bed. It was the miles run on rainy days, the healthy meals when a burger sounded like heaven. That big moment represented and rested on a foundation of moments that had come before it.
I believe that if we cultivate a true attention, a deep ability to see what has been there all along, we will find worlds within us and between us, dreams and stories and memories spilling over. The nuances and shades and secrets and intimations of love and friendship and marriage and parenting are action-packed and multicolored, if you know where to look.
Today is your big moment. Moments, really. The life you’ve been waiting for is happening all around you. The scene unfolding right outside your window is worth more than the most beautiful painting, and the crackers and peanut butter that you’re having for lunch on the coffee table are as profound, in their own way, as the Last Supper. This is it. This is life in all its glory, swirling and unfolding around us, disguised as pedantic, pedestrian non-events. But pull of the mask and you will find your life, waiting to be made, chosen, woven, crafted.
Your life, right now, today, is exploding with energy and power and detail and dimension, better than the best movie you have ever seen. You and your family and your friends and your house and your dinner table and your garage have all the makings of a life of epic proportions, a story for the ages. Because they all are. Every life is.
You have stories worth telling, memories worth remembering, dreams worth working toward, a body worth feeding, a soul worth tending, and beyond that, the God of the universe dwells within you, the true culmination of super and natural.
You are more than dust and bones.
You are spirit and power and image of God.
And you have been given Today.” ”
— Shauna Niequist