Now, as you can see, the Lord has kept me alive and well as he promised for all these forty-five years since Moses made this promise—even while Israel wandered in the wilderness. Today I am eighty-five years old. I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then. (Joshua 14:10-11)
Relate: Imagine for a moment that you are employed at the army recruitment office. It is the late 1930’s and although it isn’t official, everybody knows that we are gearing up to join the fight against Hitler. Many of our best soldiers and pilots have already hopped over to Britain and joined in the fighting. Now the brass over you is creating recruitment quotas because we need to swell the ranks. You have been given orders to push the envelope. Take anybody that old enough that it looks like they might be possibly eighteen and anyone sturdy enough that they can stand at attention.
The thing is, you don’t think this guy standing before you, Caleb it says on his form, was quite what your CO had in mind. He looks to be mid sixties but his birth certificate puts him even a couple decades older than that. He tells you that he still goes jogging every day and what he might lack in “vim and vigor” he makes up for in experience. He has fought in Cuba, the Philippines and France. As a wisecrack you ask if he was a drummer in the Civil War. He answers deadpan, “Nope. But my older brother was.” You smile inside at the conniptions some paper pusher is going to have in some other office but, orders are orders. Out comes the stamp… Approved.
Have you ever used a thesaurus? If you are old enough to know what those are, you know that it almost certainly said, “Rogets” on the front of it. The only reason he began working on the first one was because he was forced to retire from the Royal Society at 70. That first thesaurus was published when he was 73 and he kept improving and updating them until he died 17 years later. One of America’s greatest painters, Grandma Moses, didn’t pick up a paintbrush until she was 76 and told she was too old to continue her career in embroidery. A traveling salesman sold 10 multimixers to Maurice and Richard McDonald who owned a couple burger joints in California and Arizona. In an effort to sell more mixers he tried convincing them they should go national. They said they would if he helped them manage the new stores. So at 52 Ray Kroc became the manager and eventually at 59 the sole owner of this little burger joint you might have heard of called McDonalds.
React: Maybe it’s because I have worked in children’s, youth, and college ministries for so long that I always emphasize pushing the young ones to expect, dream and do greater things for God. Paul tells Timothy not to let anyone look down on him because he is young. But as much as we have far too low expectations for children and teens today, we also do the same on the other end of the spectrum. Someone like Nelson Mandela becoming president at 76 is a rarity in our day. For the most part we expect our senior saints to leave the workforce sometime between 55 and 65, possibly move south, and enjoy the fruits of their labor living off their pensions and social security. No. No! A thousand times no. Somewhere out there is a man like Moses who at 80 confronted the greatest power in the world and said, “Let my people go!” Twenty-seven million souls are desperately waiting for him. Somewhere there is another Caleb who at 85 said, “There is more land to take. There is another battle to fight. There is another victory for God ahead and I’m ready to take it!” Until my last breath exits my body, let me never stop working for God with everything I have in me.
God, let me not look back at what I could have done but instead look forward at what I still can do. Rather than dreaming of what might have been help me to have visions of what might become. Give me greater dreams and goals for my present and future. Show me the battles You would have me fight and give me the strength of will, mind, and body to continue fighting them for all the days You have for me.