40 Days in Happy Valley
Jon Ortberg says that the Bible is full of 3 Day Stories and 40 Day Stories. 3Day stories are quick stories of hope in the darkness, tragedy to redemption in three days. Jonah was in the belly of a great fish for three days. Jesus was in the tomb for three days. Powerful explosive stories of redemptive hope. We all like 3Day stories.
But there are even more 40Day stories in the Bible. Jesus was in the desert 40 days before a great spiritual battle. Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days before receiving the 10 Commandments. Jonah told the city of Nineveh that they had 40 days to repent before God brought judgment. Jesus was with the disciples for 40 days after his resurrection.
If 3Day stories are like microwaved hope, 40Day stories are more of the crock-pot, slow cooking variety. A 40Day story is more than a moment, but less than a good long year. It’s a season of time, that’s long enough to call us out of our routine, but short enough to see the deadline. 40Day stories may be stories of transition to new chapters, or stories of preparation, or perhaps an extended, dark night of the soul. But one common theme we find in most 40Day stories is a sense of urgency.
As a Christ-follower I’m called to see things differently. We are called to focus as much on what is unseen, as we do on what is seen. We are called to see the world with spiritual eyes, a biblical filter. In Happy Valley, I think the story we find ourselves in, is a 40Day story. We would like it to be a 3Day story, and it’s a 3Day story that gives us hope…but we are in a 40Day story.
What do we do in a 40Day story?
1) We need to resist the urge to get “back to normal” as quickly as possible. It’s an almost universal heart-tendency to desire a return to normal, but our normal brought us to this place. 40Day stories are meant to lead to a new normal. The new normal doesn’t necessarily require the wholesale destruction of the old normal, but it does require change. What is it that we need/want to change? Community wide, this is being discussed. New transparency. New concern for kids. New compassion for those who have been wounded by sexual abuse. New priorities. Something/someone new as the object of our worship and devotion.
2) I think we –I’m talking primarily to the church — may need to develop a greater sense of urgency. I’m not sure how urgent we feel about what is taking place in our community. Obviously urgency will look different in you, than it does in me. But one common component of urgency is that for a season, what is urgent gets our time, our attention, our heart, and our resources. We cannot say that we are urgent if nothing changes in those arenas.
For example if you find out that you are going to have a tax audit in 40 days, your urgency will change your focus. If you find out you have a job review in 40 days that will either gain you a promotion or a dismissal, your urgency will change your priorities. If you find out your child has cancer, your urgency will change almost every arena of life.
This weekend at Calvary, we are going to be looking at Our 40Day Story. What if God is calling us to a 40Day story so that we might find something far greater than just happy…in the valley?