Dr. Phil The other day I had the opportunity to share in our church from the life of Caleb. You remember him, right? He was the “other” guy. He was there with Moses and Joshua, yet had to wait forty-five years to get what was promised to him. Yet in all that time he never got disillusioned or bitter. That is the only way I can figure he could say in Joshua 14, “I am as strong at 85 as I was at 40, I will fight those same enemies in the hill country in order to inherit the land that God promised to me 45 years ago.”
It all began when he and Joshua were willing and able to go into the promised land the first time around, but due to the decisions of others they spent the next 40 years wandering in the wilderness until only they were left. Moses died, as well as their whole generation – acquaintances, friends and family. Only those who at the time were twenty and under were still alive. So Joshua and Caleb, now in their eighties, were the oldest guys on the trail.
What is truly remarkable is that Caleb did not get bitter for having his dream denied by others. Nor did he get envious when his best buddy got tapped on the shoulder by Moses to lead the people. He just kept eating the manna, packing up the tent, and cleaning sand out of his sandals. The reality is that it is impossible to have vision and hold on to God’s promises while holding on to bitterness at the same time. The fact that he at 85 could say, “Joshua, remember that promise that God made to me through Moses, I want to fight those same enemies and take what is mine now,” indicates that he had not become a disillusioned, bitter old man.
That I think is the main point. But I also see from his life that he had certain battles to face and overcome. Those enemies in the hill country, where still there when he was an old man, because they were his enemies to overcome. I kind of think that it is the same for us. We all have battles that are tailored just for us. We can try avoiding them, but if we want to fulfill God’s purposes in our lives we need to learn to conquer “our” enemies. I am not sure we ever can retire from them. Our role may change and the intensity of the battle may change, but it is possible to have the same passion and focus as Caleb, even as we get older.
Our emphasis on mentoring, I believe reflects a key component to how we can stay in the battle and do our part so that those coming behind us can benefit from the battles we have engaged in and won. As with Caleb, God will not forget his promises to us and as we trust in him, refusing to get bitter and cynical in the process, he will fulfill his will in our lives – even if it takes until we are 85!