I have dubbed him a “geriatric hero.” Caleb is the Biblical character I most often hear the older saints aspire to be like. Now that I have reached my current “mature” age of sixty-one, I am “all in” with wanting to like him too.
We know he and Joshua famously as the two spies who were part of the twelve man reconnaissance team for Israel, returning with confidence that they could take the land. Caleb (our hero) is also noted for having the zeal and desire to take another mountain of conquest at the age of eighty, while also leaving an inheritance for his offspring.
More than just the kind of person we should aspire to be like in our later years, I believe Caleb is a great example for believers of every age. Six times in the Word of God there is a quality attributed to him: “He followed the Lord wholeheartedly.” (Num. 14: 24; 32: 11-12; Deut. 1: 36; Josh. 14: 8, 9 and 14.) I believe that Caleb followed with his whole heart for his whole life. The manner in which I carry out my current mission for God reflects the manner with which I’ve carried my heart before Him all along.
I am impressed with the staying power of this man. With the Promised Land mission on delay, he was forced to wait another generation before taking possession of Canaan. Keeping heart levels up when destiny is on delay – this requires full devotion.
Author Alicia Britt Chole gives this insight: “We find God’s pauses perplexing. They seem to be a waste of our potential. When those pauses extend beyond what we can comprehend or explain (say, for instance, three days), we often spiral into self-doubt or second-guessing. But in anonymous seasons we must hold tightly to the truth that no doubt strengthened Jesus throughout His hidden years: Father God is neither care-less nor cause-less with how He spends our lives.” 1
The issue for Israel was the actual giants in Canaan, plus the giants within themselves, that made them shrink back. I’ve been tumbled from the inside before. I know how it goes down.
The Promised Land as I see it, has an internal and an external dimension. God desires that we enter into our mission, our assignment, (career, parenting, ministry labors) while also desiring that we become like Him. (transformation of character, renewing the mind, healing the heart)
“But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, (internal dimension) I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.” (external dimension) Numbers 14:24
Are there ups an downs in the journey? Of course. But there is also grace available, enabling us to be consistent.
“No matter how many times you trip them up, God-loyal people don’t stay down long; Soon they’re up on their feet…” (Prov.24:16 MSG) (italics mine; emphasis added)
And, I might add, following wholeheartedly.