First Sunday of Lent – Gospel reading Mark 1:12-15
Jesus was tested in the desert for 40 days. It’s no secret that the number 40 has biblical significance, most notably connected to Elijah, Moses, and Noah and the flood. In all cases, the periods of time associated with 40 represented a time of trial and preparation that ultimately led to restoration, renewal, or new life. But a connection I don’t hear about often, and one that I find fascinating, is that a human pregnancy lasts 40 weeks.
During those 40 weeks, new life is created. And wow is it anything but simple. Detail by detail, cell by cell, a new person develops a heart that beats, eyes that see, ears that hear. They begin to respond, move, feel and smell. Brain connections, muscle fibers and an intricate nervous system are among millions of tiny details involved in this new creation. And as if that weren’t enough, each new person is completely and totally unique.
In the midst of this painstakingly detailed and incredible process, the baby in in a state of perfect surrender. Waiting patiently in the darkness for God to do his work. Trusting that he will see the light when the time is right. Dependent and loved. Fragile and free.
New babies are experts at letting themselves be loved and letting God do his work. It’s a good reminder at the start of Lent, that while we are all working to change, sacrificing and making an effort to be the best we can be, we also need to leave ourselves open to let God take care of the details. He knows what we need see, where we need to go, and what we need to hear. As he does with each and every brand new human life, he has a plan. He will lead us into the light. We just need to surrender and let him in.