The number 40 appears 146 times in the Bible. One instance I want to focus on was Moses guiding his people, the Israelites, in the wilderness. They wandered for 40 years. I suspect there was a lot of second guessing going on. But in the end, people still had faith to keep Moses as their leader and to lead them to the Promised Land.
Forty years ago was huge for me. That year (1980) I graduated law school; I studied, took and passed the law bar exam. I bought my first house. I started my first job as an attorney. And (the biggest event) I proposed and married my wife, Barbara. All of that occurred between May and September of 1980.
This September Barb and I will celebrate my 40 years of marriage. A lot has happened in 40 years.
There were though times: struggling financially; changing jobs three times; starting a business on my own; watching loved ones going through chronic illness or aging; other loved ones dying unexpectedly; and watching our kids struggle with life and their own heartbreaks.
There were good times: the birth of three sons; getting to do work we both love; traveling; camping; kids’ sports; finding a church home; and many friends along the way.
One thing remains steady: my wife. She always focused on keeping things together; to get to a better day; to a better place. She always picked up the pieces, kept them organized and put them back together. She has always been there to support me, to give me wise advice, and to keep me grounded.
Oh, I don’t want to mislead you. I’m sure that if she did not feel like killing me at times, she certainly was tempted to drop me off in a wilderness area 100 miles from any place without food or provisions, just to see if I could make it, and to get me out of her hair for a while.
I don’t suspect that anyone goes through a 40 year relationship with a spouse or any other relationship, without ups and downs. Someone has to be strong enough to make it work, even in difficult moments.
Second, you can make the memories of the good things what you remember most. That choice is yours. (Heck, I can remember like it was yesterday the dress my wife wore for our couples shower that was hosted for us. I can remember like it was yesterday yelling, “it’s a boy” upon the birth of our first child. And posing for all those wedding pictures.)
So, my wife and I have made it 40 years – just as the Israelites made it through 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Then they entered the Promised Land.
My wife may feel like there were periods where we were wandering in the wilderness, but she hung in there. I hope now she feels like we are about to pass into the Promised Land. I know I could not think of a better companion.
I hope you all have a great companion on your journey.