Wednesday, March 25, 2009

On Finishing Strong

Yesterday I read the story of Caleb, now an old man, asking Joshua to let him take the land of Hebron. Here are a few of his words: "And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the LORD spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the LORD spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the LORD said" (Josh 14:10-12).

Oh, how I want to be like Caleb both now and when I grow old! First, I want to imitate his faith. Notice how his confidence derived not from belief in himself but rather from faith in the promise of the Lord. I see this in the words "as the Lord said." This conquest was not about Caleb in Caleb's mind, it was about God and his promises, and Caleb simply wanted to know the joy of seeing the promises of God fulfilled with his own eyes. He was unafraid because he trusted in the Lord.

Second, I want to imitate his humility. Notice how he didn't boast in a victory he had not yet won, but rather said "It may be that the LORD will be with me..." Faith does not presume upon God, it submits to the will of God whatever that may be. Faith does strive to take hold of the promises of God but it stops short of dictating to the Lord what that has to look like. Thus, rather than proudly boasting in his abilities or arrogantly assuming he knew God's will for the situation, Caleb simply said, "I want to walk in obedience and perhaps the Lord will give me victory." I love that about him.

Furthermore, Caleb displayed his humble spirit by submitting not only to God but to God's man, Joshua. Think about it. Joshua was much younger than Caleb and Caleb obviously had the wisdom and abilities to do whatever he wanted. But he knew that God himself had appointed Joshua and that the key to being a man of God is submission to the will and ways of the Lord, including his chain of command. So here we see this old, skilled, courageous, wise warrior submitting himself to a man that was probably decades younger than him. Oh how I love his humility and how I want to imitate it.

Finally, I want to imitate his courage. Caleb was simply unafraid of the enemies on every side because he trusted in the greatness of God. He really believed. It's one thing to say we trust in God, it's another thing to strap on a sword and fight against a people that are taller and stronger than you because the Lord has promised you success. And for our part, it's one thing to say we trust in God, it's another thing to leave our comfort zones and share the gospel with our family and friends and neighbors and co-workers in the hope that they might be saved. But if we had the spirit of Caleb about us we would simply go for it with the attitude that "perhaps the Lord will be with us."

Oh Father, help us to love and trust you more. Help us to believe in you--really beleive. Help us to be humble and submissive, and help us to be courageous and unafraid to walk in the things you have for us this day and week and month and year.

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