“Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then.
Joshua 14 vv 10-11
Caleb was one of the grand old men of Israel. He and Joshua had been among the 12 spies sent out by Moses to investigate the defences of the land of promise. (Numbers 13) And it was only Joshua and Caleb that could trust God to give them victory over the inhabitants. Everybody else saw the dark side of the struggle they were going to face, and so it was that God declared ‘Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun.’ (Numbers 14 v 30)
Now they are in the land Caleb comes to ask for his reward – and guess what – he doesn’t ask for the easy option at age 85. No, he volunteers to go off into the hills and claim the territory of the very people that had seemed so awesome 40 years earlier. He was willing to trust God in a battle against the Anakites, who were perceived as giants when the 12 spies returned to report to Moses on what they had seen. He took on the tough challenge of dealing with ‘giants’ in his old age.
Genuine faith, of the Caleb kind, is not restricted by age. It never has been. All too often we view old age as a time to sit back and let the young fight the battles, or do the work. We are apt to say to ourselves ‘I’ll support the younger ones with my prayers – but don’t expect me to be in the thick of the activity.’ Now, it is quite possible that this will be the way God wants us to go – but it is not an automatic plan! The possibility of being in the front line of God’s service remains well into old age!
For reflection: Is there any such thing as retirement from the service of God?