“As a young man I was proud of ‘my’ accomplishments,” Todd Shupe recently reflected. I graduated high school and then went on to college and graduated three more times before I had enough. As a professor at LSU, I received large state and federal grants and industry contracts. I obtained 3 U.S. patents and published over 300 peer-reviewed papers. I bought a nice house and we had a nice summer vacation. I was proud of “my” accomplishments for the first 40 years of my life. “It was at this age that I was a pilgrim on the Walk to Emmaus and my eyes were opened to who I was and to Whom I belong,” LSU’s Todd Shupe added. “I still enjoyed my work at LSU, but I began to engage in a much more fulfilling work – helping to build God’s kingdom on earth.
The number 40 has special significance in the Bible. In the Old Testament, when God destroyed the Earth with water, He caused it to rain 40 days and 40 nights (Genesis 7:12). After Moses killed the Egyptian, he fled to Midian where he spent 40 years in the desert tending flocks (Acts 7:30). Moses was on Mount Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights (Exodus 24:18). Moses interceded on Israel’s behalf for 40 days and 40 nights (Deuteronomy 9:18, 25). The Israelites wandered for 40 years (Deuteronomy 8:2-5). In the New Testament, Jesus was tempted after fasting for 40 days (Matthew 4:2). There were 40 days between Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:3). There are other examples, but I don’t think God wants us to dwell on the number 40 or any other subliminal messages that some believe to be in the Bible.
I realize that all of us have been given fruits of the Spirit, says Todd Shupe. I was blessed by the opportunities I was presented with and blessed with the ability to be successful in those opportunities; I now realize that all my blessings are from God. St. Paul instructs us in 1 Corinthians 1:4-5: “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way — with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge.” I now realize that anything good I have accomplished has been because of His grace and anything bad that I have done has been because I have lived in the flesh and not in the Spirit. The greatest blessing you can receive is to be a blessing to others, says Todd Shupe, LSU’s former wood sciences professor. Apart from Christ, we are nothing. But through Him, all things are possible, says Todd Shupe. So give credit where credit is due. Your accomplishments and mine are from the generous blessings of God. Be thankful and be blessed.