A Telling of Caleb's Story
Don’t you find Caleb’s story pretty remarkable and inspiring? I know I always did. As I read of his tenacious determination, I envisioned similar adventures and felt willing to take on such challenges. I was with him all the way!
Now that I am 50, somehow past the halfway point of my lifetime (although who knows for sure…) I read his story with absolute admiration and honor. I am somewhat in awe of the strength of this man. Who can imagine how I will feel about him when I reach an age comparable to his?
In Joshua 14:11 he tells Joshua that "I am as strong today as when I was first sent.” Now wait just a minute. Let’s take a real look at this! Forty-five years have passed since that initial scouting expedition for Moses. Caleb was forty years of age then. According to my math that makes him eighty-five when he said this! I don’t know what an average lifespan for that time period was, but he must have been at least near the halfway point! And here he was, claiming to be as strong as ever.
I myself must acknowledge a bit of weariness. Life knocks the stuffing out of you. All the dreams of grandeur, the hopes of great accomplishments, the goodness you have worked to attain – all undone. Oh, there have been achievements – don’t get me wrong. But the human soul always wants more – and the human flesh always fails. My dreams of leaving frailty completely behind, of living above sin and its consequences, of being a superhero for God are not materializing. (Not a hero in the world’s eyes, mind you. Oh, no. I just wanted to be great before Him - great apart from just boasting humility and complete dependence, that is. And I am learning that this is an impossibility. Ah, death to flesh again.)
So I look at Caleb with new eyes these days. His strength, which once appeared to be superhuman, is now seen differently. There is no human quality about it. It is divine.
So the next question: how? How did he get such divine ability?
I consider this man, this man of flesh and blood so very akin to myself. He went with his brethren to scout out the promised land. When they brought a report of evil tidings, he maintained a word of faith. If their words were able to melt the heart of the people, surely they had an effect on Caleb. But he refused to listen and let such tidings take root in his soul. He “had a different spirit in him”. He “wholly followed after the Lord.”
Good start, no doubt. The best. But this is forty years later!
What had he endured during those forty years? How come life hadn’t knocked the stuffing out of him? I conjecture that it had.
Every man who had failed to believe had died. That’s an awful lot of compadres. That’s a whole lot of family. That’s hard.
He had wandered with these people in that vast wilderness called the desert. He had partaken of all the same hardships, afflictions, and difficulties. I bet there were nights filled with doubts followed by mornings that taunted him of empty promises, boasting of just another hopeless day. Weariness.
So what allowed him to be in a place of strength at such a crucial time when the promise was about to be fulfilled? I think it was a lesson learned and willfully practiced. He knew that he must wait on the Lord.
Those that know how to wait on the Lord will find their strength renewed. If Caleb is not a picture of renewed strength, I don’t know who is! And if he didn’t wait longer than most of us, I don’t know who did!
The others, having seen God’s faithfulness in times past, failed to trust and obey. Caleb did not. Although the night may have overwhelmed him at times and the days been long and weary, he comforted himself with God’s word. In Joshua 14:6 he reminds Joshua of the word of the Lord spoken concerning them forty-five years earlier. Caleb had remembered, rehearsed, and found strength in waiting on the Lord to complete the promise given. He had determined to cling to it, to kindle the memory of those words, to insist on trusting the Lord, waiting wholly for His completion of the promise.
He waited, not striking out on his own to somehow fulfill his destiny. He didn’t strive against Him and didn’t trust in his own strength. Human strength wanes and peters out. His probably did. Mine most certainly has. He needed divine strength. I do, too.
Caleb battled. At times, I am sure, he faltered. After all, he was human. And when he came to the end of his strength he found himself waiting on God – and growing in strength.
At the age of eighty-five Caleb exhibited the strength of youth because he had learned to wait. Forty-five years of waiting and he still believed. I think he had learned a great deal.
Isaiah 40:29-31 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord;
be courageous and let your heart be strong.
Wait for the Lord.