CALEB… the man who lived life to the full
Bible reading: Joshua 14: 6-14
How far can you think back?
- When was the happiest time…the saddest time?
- If you could live just one year of your life again, which would it be?
We don’t know how long our life will last…for some it is very short… others reach an amazing age… but we all die eventually… that’s life!
- I was reading about the last survivor from the 1st World War, Harry Patch, who died aged 109
- A minister I know had a grandma who lived to be 105
And Caleb was a mere stripling of 85!
We were all young at one time…
- But the way that some younger people treat the elderly you would think that old people had always been old!
A frail and very old man staggered down the church aisle to his seat… He was rather unkempt and I noticed younger people casting sidelong, rather disapproving glances at him
- But this man had done some amazing things in his lifetime serving as Sunday School leader, deacon, church secretary and preacher.
- Now he was approaching the end of his life
- Was he a ‘has been’…good for nothing…better off dead? Of course not!
We all live our lives, run the race and die…but we remain God’s children if we choose to do so… and have the prospect of eternal life with Him
Never underestimate an older person… she or he might look frail and say little… and might be prone to nodding off to sleep occasionally… but, as someone has said: “Never apologise for being old; it took a long time and a lot of effort to get here!“
Caleb is a name that means ‘dog’
- But not a dirty dog!
- Someone has commented that Caleb had all the best qualities of a dog…obedience…faithfulness…trust… lifelong commitment
As a young man he was chosen to represent the tribe of Judah as one of the ‘spies’ to explore Judah
- He was young-ish (40) and still pretty agile…but also showed the hallmarks of a leader
- To be a spy was an honour and a responsibility…he had obviously proved himself as a younger man and was now given this important task
- Now 45 more years had passed and Caleb had left his youth far behind
The church has many older people
- If you did not have a function in life you would have been taken home to glory long ago!
- God has allowed you to live for a purpose
The problem is that some people start to think of themselves as ‘useless’ … that their lives serve no purpose
- It is frustrating if you have been an active person in the past and have had to curtail your activities
- But are you useless? Is life without purpose simply because your body and, perhaps, your mind is starting to fail? Not in God’s sight!
Sometimes we can feel depressed…
- Sitting alone…exhausted and worn down by life’s cares
- We feel like the seed trying to grow among the weeds…gradually being strangled by our situation
- And the devil ‘helpfully’ compounds our misery by reminding us of all our failings and lost opportunities
The great consolation for us is the fact that if God only dealt with perfect people He would be unemployed!
- He pours out His grace on the undeserving
- On the young and old, weak and strong, gifted and ordinary
Even when we have messed up our lives, He doesn’t abandon us, though we must accept responsibility for the impact that our actions have on our lives and those of others
- The Son of God, Jesus Christ the Saviour of the world, died that we might be forgiven, to give us a hope and the promise of His never-failing love
- The death of Christ on the Cross at a place called Calvary paid the price for all our sins
- And now He stands at the door of our hearts and asks admission
- It’s undeserved but available to all
Caleb knew little or nothing about the coming Saviour, Jesus Christ… but he knew that his first loyalty was to God … and Caleb trusted Him
And notice how Caleb’s commitment was life-long
- None of this retirement malarkey!
- He preferred to wear out than to rust out!
Of course age takes its toll
- At first you run the hundred yards race…then you walk… then you stagger…then you crawl… but only when you die do you stop striving!
- The candles on the birthday cake weigh more than the cake itself!
- But spiritually we should be more alert and ‘stronger’ than ever before
Caleb claimed that he was still as strong at the age of 85 as he was at the age of 40!
- If he was referring to his physical strength, he was indeed exceptional
- But it’s clear that his attitude applied to his relationship with God, too … the years had not eroded it but reinforced it
So he cried out to God via Joshua: “Give me this hill country” or, better still in older versions, “Give me this mountain”
- I’m not interested in mole hills…I want a mountain!
If we have stuttered and stumbled in life, we do well to look at Caleb’s example
- He wasn’t perfect…but he did have one vital characteristic… perseverance!
You may feel that you cannot match Caleb…he was outstanding
- But regardless of your position, health, age or condition, you can glorify God in your life
- Your kind word, selfless act, sacrificial giving or faithful behaviour from day to day is highly valued by God and leaves a powerful legacy from which others benefit
- And you can believe that God rewards those who diligently seek Him and honour Him in their lives, whether we are an Olympic athlete, a toilet cleaner, a film (movie) star or a housewife
- Whether we are old, young or in-between
It is so important to use our time well…so that, like Caleb, we can look back and see a life well spent
- Yes, we will have made mistakes
- Yes, we haven’t always walked the narrow way
- Yes, there have been times when our trust in God has weakened
BUT…whatever has gone before, let’s all aim to FINISH WELL
- We read of Jacob that even as his life was ebbing away, he worshipped God while leaning on his staff… That’s the way to go!
As Paul writes to the early church:
But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on towards the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenwards in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 13a-14)
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing (2 Timothy 4: 7-9)
Until that day, whether we are eight, eighteen or eighty-eight, let’s pray: “Lord, give me this mountain”