Gestational themes in the Bible and me

It takes about 40 weeks to prepare a human in the womb for the world. Forty weeks or 280 days takes about 9 full moons.


  • Noah sat on his boat for a little over nine moons. It rained on his boat for forty days.
  • Moses lived in exile for 40 years.
  • The children of Israel were liberated by Moses after 400 years of Egyptian slavery.
  • Moses went up on the mountain to talk with God for 40 days.
  • The Israelite spies visited the Promised Land for 40 days.
  • Moses prayed for Israel for 40 days.
  • The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years.
  • The prophet Elijah fasted for 40 days.
  • David began the liberation of Israel after 40 years of Philistine oppression.
  • Jonah gave Nineveh 40 days to repent.
  • Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for 40 days before he began his ministry.
  • Jesus appeared after his resurrection for 40 days.
  • The Lenten season lasts for 40 days.

Forty is about new birth, a difficult period of growth in preparation for transition.

I remember first asking Jesus into my heart when I was five years old. I have a funny memory of that experience. I went to church every week as soon as I could be dropped off in the nursery. My church was committed to instructing us as early as possible on our need to get saved by asking Jesus in our hearts. I was a serious little dude. I had to think this one through. I don't know if it was a Sunday night or mid-week, but I lay in my bed after the lights were turned off and considered this prayer. I decided to pull the trigger and asked Jesus to come into my heart. I was pretty excited so I jumped out of bed to tell my mom about the big decision, figuring she'd be happy I wasn't going to hell anymore. I might have developed a pattern of not staying in bad, I don't remember, but she was polite about my good news but preferred I share it with her in the morning and sent me back to bed.

It's been forty years for me since that night. I feel like something died in me last year religiously and has been replaced with something more optimistic and hopeful. In the midst of it, I really despaired. But at this very close perspective, I don't think something died but something was born out of great pain. I read the beginning of Genesis again this morning and identify with Eve's consequence, Gen. 3:16 “I’ll multiply your pains in childbirth; you’ll give birth to your babies in pain. You’ll want to please your husband, but he’ll lord it over you.” My metaphorical "husband" was my fundamentalist understanding of God, the Bible, and Jesus. I could never satisfy that "husband." It didn't serve me, but weighed me down. That road to God, for me dead ended in a wilderness. I wandered around theologically, never quite letting the end of that road out of my sight. I read about older paths to Jesus. I heard about people today, like me, who found that fundamentalist road did not lead far enough. I used to fear those roads. I was taught to fear those roads. I used to tell other people to fear those roads. It was painful. After 40 years of gestation, I might be onto something new to me, though something very old in itself.

I will see what the next 40 years will bring. Moses was not called by God until he was 80.


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