Thursday, June 26, 2008


"That sure is a lot of candles, Daddy!" - Elizabeth Early

I waited patiently for the Lord;
He inclined and heard my cry.
He brought me up out of the pit,
Out of the miry clay.

I will sing, sing a new song.
How long to sing this song?

He set my feet upon a rock
And made my footsteps firm.
Many will see, many will see and fear."

-- U2, "40" (from their 1983 album War; the song is a paraphrase of Ps. 40).

Have you ever noticed how many times the number 40 appears in Scripture? Here is but a partial sampling of the various occurences of the number.

1. The rain that caused the great flood lasted 40 days and 40 nights (Gen. 7:12).

2. The flood remained on the earth 40 days (Gen. 7:17).

3. Both Isaac and Esau were 40 years old when they married (Genesis 25:20, 26:34).

4. Moses was about 40 years old when he left Egypt, and 40 more years passed before the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and he returned to Egypt (Acts 7:23.30).

5. The Israelites wandered in the desert and ate manna for 40 years (Ex. 16:35; Deut. 2:7)

6. Moses spent 40 days and nights on the mountain with God (Ex. 24:18)

7. In the time of the Judges, the people of Israel often enjoyed 40 years of rest before a new enemy would attack (Judges 3:11, 5:31, etc) and many of the Judges ruled 40 years.

8. Elijah fasted for 40 days (3 Ki 19:8), as did (of course) the Lord Jesus (Matt. 4:2)

9. Both David and Solomon ruled 40 years over Israel (3 Kingdoms (1 Kings) 2:11, 11:38/42)

10. Most significantly, as we recently observed in our liturgical cycle, Jesus spent 40 days on earth before He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:3).

I could go on and on, but by now I'm sure you get my point: 40 is a very significant number in salvation history. Why did God choose 40 to be such an important number? Why cause so many things to last 40 days or years? I don't know. But I do know that the number 40 has taken on new significance for me: it has recently become the number of years that I completed on the earth. This officially occurred over three months ago--I've been mulling over this post and dealying writing it for quite some time.

Being 40 is interesting. It certainly makes me seem a little less young in the eyes of some folks. Am I now "over the hill?" Or is (as some say) 40 "the new 30?" Does life truly begin at 40? I have no idea; I haven't been 40 long enough to tell. Perhaps some of you who are a bit over 40 can weigh in on this subject.

For now, here are some pictures from my 40th birthday celebration for your amusement.

I am just tickled pink to be 40!

Let my candle smoke arise in Thy sight as incense! You can see I've still got my lung capacity!


Rachael Companik said...

Many years, Father!

Fr. Gregory Jensen said...

Ah 40! I remember thy however dimly!

Happy Birthday Father and my God grant you many (more:)) years!

Fr Gregory

Fr Joseph Huneycutt said...

Uh ... 47: Moi ... today, June 26.

Many years, Father!

(That's a definitive statement. I.e., You are now, officially, old.)

Paul said...

Yes, Father. I remember the day. Smeone told me the ride was much smoother on the back side of the hill. Happy belated B'Day

charlene said...

Oh yes indeed Father, life DOES begin at 40! And every decade after that gets better, at least as far as I can tell at a year and a piece over 60. Decade birthdays are the best: you get to look back at where you were 10 years ago, where you wanted to be today, whether you are where you wanted to be, and to plan for where you want to be ten years from now. Then you can decide how to get there. Happy belated!

Anonymous said...


Срећан Рођендан - Srećan Rođendan!

According to Wikipedia in year 40 AD, "Christianity comes to Egypt as a church is founded in Alexandria. Mark the Evangelist founds the Coptic Orthodox Church as the first pope."

My favourite American writer Pearl S. Buck was born on the same day as you in 1892, and also the famous physicist Lord Kelvin in 1824.

I wish you much peace and joy in life, and I have little birthday present for you - 150. psalm in Serbian. Here it is. Enjoy!

Veliki pozdrav iz Srbije,


Clint said...

I have one more year before the big four oh. I remember when my dad turned 40. It almost killed him. (and man, did I think he was OLD). But as I get nearer, it doesn't really seem like that big of a deal to me. Maybe I am not paying close enough attention, but it seems to me that it is just another year.

I'll get back to you on it next year, when it is really upon me.

BTW, you are carrying your 40 very well. I hope when I am 40 that I can do 45 HARD minutes on an elliptical trainer (rather than 45 VERY SLOW minutes). lol

Fr. James Early said...

Thanks to all for your kind comments. Charlene, I'm glad that life really does begin at 40 and that this is not just an old wives' tale!


Hvala lijepo za ljubazne rijece! Bog te blagoslovio!

Molly Sabourin said...

Wow, 40! Congratulations! You've made good, great, wonderful use of your time here on earth, Father James! I love the photo of you blowing out your many, many candles! :)

Katrina said...

Many years, Father!