The number forty has always been a very significant number in biblical history. Moses was up on the mountain with God for forty days and nights and came back down with ten little laws to live by…well, at least to keep the Israelites in line–the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 34:28) It rained for forty days and nights and flooded the earth. Can you imagine what the dew point level was when Noah landed on Mount Ararat? (Genesis 7:1-24) The grumbling Israelites wandered through the desert for forty years until the entire generation of grumblers had perished. (Numbers 14:26-35) Prior to the beginning of his ministry, even Jesus fasted and prayed forty days while being tempted by Satan in the wilderness. Just think what will power Jesus must have had to fast for forty days while the devil is holding up their version of a Big Mac and fries?! (Matthew 4:1-11)
Fast forward to the 21st century and the number forty is still a major milestone in our lives for it marks the unofficial “end” of our chronological youth and a large misstep into maturity. That’s right boys and girls; it marks the end of your association with the “in crowd” as you cross over to the “Over-the-Hill” gang…It begins so innocently with all things black and unique gift ideas that include: Preparation H, denture cream, denture cleaner, walkers, canes, wheelchairs…I don’t have time for an exhaustive list but you get the idea. This “special” birthday usually ends in a severe case of depression, re-evaluation of your life and staring directly into the bright light of the oncoming train called midlife crisis. It’s that time of life when things that happen to “other people” begin to happen to you! The sad thing is, I’ve already had that special birthday plus enough years to make up a legal high school graduate…(OK, for those of you who are trying to figure this out…40+18=?)
Hhhmmm…where was I?…Oh yeah…high school graduate and another “forty” event. This evening on August 12th, 2016 at Burr Oak lodge in Ohio, folks will be kicking off the Fortieth high school reunion for the Nelsonville-York class of 1976—GO BUCKEYES! This weekend is sure to be packed with a lot of fun memories and life stories and even though I won’t be physically present, I WILL be there in spirit.
The year 1976 was of course our country’s bicentennial year and even though our school colors were brown, off white, and orange (blame my brother’s class for picking those stupid colors minus the orange…) we had to graduate in bicentennial red, white, and blue. It was the age of vinyl records and vinyl platform shoes, of bell bottom jeans and leisure suits. And as I look back, it was also an age of confusion.
I have to smile as I think back of how serious we were in high school; trying to make those good grades, attempting to fit in and just survive until graduation day came along. We had our jocks, cheerleaders, brainiacs, bandy’s, the cool kids, and of course “the others” which had to be placed in the miscellaneous category. We had the ones that were “all that”…I didn’t know what “all that” was but I was sure I didn’t have it, didn’t know where to find it, and didn’t even know whether it was contagious…
I remember vividly thinking on our special day, after the diplomas were handed out, “oh crap, what now”?…life my friend…and so it was that our graduating class was dispersed in the winds to work, go to college, start raising families and to find out who we really were without a secure support system.
The first few class reunions after graduation seemed to be a five year regrouping of the jocks, cheerleaders, brainiacs, bandy’s, the cool kids, and of course “the others”. By now, reunions seem to be more like survivalist camps for we have all survived a few decades of life with all its’ possibilities, realities, pain, joy and regret. Many of us have been forever changed by illness and loss but have also been able to smile and continue on with the support of our loved ones. Most of us by now have had children and grandchildren and are thrilled to watch the next generations play their part in this big family called humanity.
But guess what Class of 76? We are not dead yet! We are not finished playing our role in this dramatic play called life. Only God knows what He holds for our futures but I bet we have a few more “forty” experiences ahead of us. Our careers may be winding down in the next few years or so but our responsibility to be good examples for our future generations still needs to be as strong as ever. As for me, God willing, it will be a fortieth wedding anniversary in a few years. I’m just trying to make sure the number forty doesn’t pop up around the waist…
Psalm 103:17-18 (NLT) But the love of the LORD remains forever with those who fear him. His salvation extends to the children’s children of those who are faithful to his covenant, of those who obey his commandments!
Luke 1:50 (NLT) He shows mercy from generation to generation to all who fear him.