Monday, November 10, 2008

Reassignment, Not Retirement

"Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the Lord said." —Joshua 14:12

You know you are getting old when everything hurts and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work. Another sign is the gleam in your eye is just the sun reflecting off your trifocals. You might even notice the years adding up if you get winded playing chess or if you sink your teeth into a nice juicy steak and they stay there. In fact, I've heard that there are four ages of man: 1) when you believe in Santa Claus, 2) when you don't believe in Santa Claus, 3) when you are Santa Claus, 4) when you look like Santa Claus.

All kidding aside, God has a great plan for you in your later years of life. Do you recognize these names: Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sethur, Nahbi, Geuel? Of course not. Why? No one remembers those who give up in life. These were the ten men who didn't have faith in God when the twelve spies were sent into the Promiseland. You'll recognize Joshua and Caleb as the spies who believed in and served God. Lets look at the end of Caleb's life.

In Joshua 14, Caleb is eighty-five years old. He still feels as strong as he was when he was forty. He makes a statement in verse 12 that reflects his desire to serve God wholeheartedly in his old age. He says, "Give me this mountain." Caleb wasn't afraid. He had no thought of retirement. He wasn't headed for Leisure World or RV Town. There was still an unfinished task ahead. Caleb had to inherit the land God had promised him in his youth.

When Caleb was forty, he and Joshua along with ten others were sent as spies into the Promiseland. When they returned, they were the only ones who reported victory and certainty. They trusted God to give them victory. Why would God break His promise to them? The land was promised, thus the name "Promiseland." Everyone else was scared to death of the "giants" in the land.

What kept Caleb living for the Lord those forty-five years? God's integrity. Caleb wholeheartedly believed God's word. Was there ever a reason to give up? Caleb and Joshua both came back and were equally certain of God's promises. We see in Numbers 13:30 it was Caleb who took the lead in trying to convince Israel to go and conquer. Yet, when God chose a leader to invade Canaan thirty-eight years later He chose Joshua. Caleb would have been a fine leader. But there is no record of Scripture of any friction between these two men. Caleb accepted his behind the scenes role and followed. You cannot be a leader in you’re not willing to be a follower. I don’t know why God chose Joshua over Caleb. I imagine that Caleb wondered about that too, but he didn’t make the mistake of growing bitter about the choices of God. Caleb continued to follow God all his life.

Why would Caleb want the hill country? After all, that was the land the giants inhabited years earlier that struck fear in the hearts of the other spies. Caleb refused to suffer from the "Grasshopper Complex," - magnifying the adversary, minimize God. Caleb didn’t minimize the difficulties, he magnified his God.

In Joshua 15:13-17, Caleb did what most did not do. While others compromised and allowed the "giants" to stay, Caleb drove out the Canaanites and inherited the land promised to him. The man with the most difficult inheritance to claim was the one who totally claimed it - all at the age of eighty-five.

There is no retirement from the Christian life or the spiritual battle. In fact, retirement is never mentioned in the Bible. You see the men of God serving Him and working hard until the day they died. God may give us the privilege, like Caleb, of living to be eighty-five or more. Or He may not. We should want the same zeal as Caleb, the zeal to get up every morning and say, "What's ahead? I am available. I am ready. Give me this mountain." That is the way we should live each and every day—not living in the past, not looking over our shoulders at the good old days, but instead looking ahead to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Caleb asked for a treacherous area known as Hebron. He wasn't looking for retirement. He wanted reassignment. He said, "I like this spot right here. It's treacherous. It's rugged. It has formidable foes. This is my kind of place. Give me this mountain. I'm ready." He never forgot it. And Moses promised it to him. But Hebron was also known for something else. It was known as the place where God spoke to Abraham face-to-face and gave him the promise of the land in the first place. The very name of Hebron means fellowship, love, and communion. This is the place Caleb longed for and received.

What mountain has been promised to you? What obstacles stand in the way of obtaining it? What has caused you to give up? While others were looking back, Caleb was looking forward. And that is an essential key to spiritual longevity: you need to always be moving forward, always seeking to grow spiritually—and never looking back.

No comments:

Post a Comment