What’s in a number?

The lectionary moved from Numbers to Deuteronomy today, but it was a number in the Deuteronomy passage that popped out from the page and sent me on a bunny trail:

3In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the Israelites just as the Lord had commanded him to speak to them.

Fortieth year.  The number FORTY.

Just this past week I as I was making another long drive, I was listening to the audio book version of a book I read a few years back, entitled Sacred Contracts.[1] And I literally hit the pause button on the dashboard as the author spoke about the significance, spiritually, of the number FORTY.  And, as I have mentioned before, the whisper to pause at something I am reading or hearing or seeing, I believe is heaven-sent.

Myss explained that in many religious traditions, the number forty is considered the period of time needed for transformation to a mature state of being and faith.  Forty days, years, hours signals a period of time delineated for preparation and initiation into a new life, a new season on one’s journey with God.  The author listed all the events associated with the number forty found in Scripture and named rites from other traditions, as well.

It was a fascinating fact that I was really aware of already, but like so many biblical factoids, had forgotten.  It was nice to be reminded and I made a note to self that when I arrived home I would research, again, FORTY and all the scriptural references.

I arrived home on Sunday night and I have been reading Scripture, reflecting and writing every day since.  But what I haven’t done is research FORTY.  Why not?  Forgot about it – totally slipped my mind.

And then this morning’s reading and there it was – just a simple number and one I would surely have read past with nary a thought had I not heard the audio book a few days before, literally pushing the pause button to think about it and making a mental note to self to follow up with some research when I got home.  But though I forgot, the Spirit didn’t.

My breath is taken away at moments like these – I feel through every cell of my being God’s presence.  From the simplest of coincidences like this where a number is put on my radar screen in order that I might hear what the Spirit is saying, to the more complicated and seemingly random intersections with people which prompt me to pause and see God’s presence.

This is where I landed at the end of this little bunny trail.  God is in it all.  In numbers, in coincidences, in intersections, in me and in you.  God is in it all.

Praise Him!


[1] As a side note:  I was re-reading the book because the Spirit had me thinking last week about authorship, generally and specifically, about a quote I had long associated with C.S. Lewis only to find its original source is unknown.  I realized a few days later that the quote, You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body, could have been written by Caroline Myss, the author of Sacred Contracts, a book that presented her work as a Spiritual Advisor, an intuit, and what some would call a mystic.  Myss suggests that the meaning and purpose of life for each of us individually and corporately is made known to us when-or-if we see, as she does,  that we are SOULS incarnated in a human body, who descend and live on earth according to God’s will and plan.

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