Caleb is my hero. Even as he got older and older, he was always active, always ready to be a part of the team, always ready to join his countrymen in battle. He seemed tireless, healthy, and ready for action.
I’m talking about Caleb from the Old Testament in the Bible. Remember the ten spies that were sent into the promised land to check things out and bring a report back to Moses and the Israelites? Caleb was one of the two who came back excited about the prospects of taking the land because God had promised it to them, even though the current inhabitants were like giants compared to the Israelites.
About 45 years after his spying mission, we read more about Caleb as he came to Israel’s current leader, and his old spying buddy, Joshua as they were finally settling in the land. In Joshua 13:11, Caleb said this, “I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming.”
So, Caleb is now 85 years old and he’s telling his leader that he’s as fully alive now as he was 45 years ago when he was called into service to spy. He stood strong in the days he was called to spy the land and he stood strong years later when it was time to fight for and inherit the land.
Caleb didn’t retire and let the young guys do the work. He kept himself fit so he could work alongside the younger guys and lead them, direct them, teach them, and mentor them. Caleb is my hero.
Caleb is a hero for me because of the strength he maintained throughout his life. He didn’t let old age make him old. I picture him as a guy who was very active all of his life, working hard, playing hard, living a balanced and healthy life. Caleb was fully alive! I see Caleb as one that multiple generations looked up to as a role model of balance in life; physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
That’s the kind of role model I want to be as I get into my 50’s. So many in our society would write of a 50 year-old man with big dreams, but I just remember Caleb and his strength and get encouraged to live out those dreams, fully alive. I want to be that guy who is physically ready to do whatever God calls him to do, so I stay in shape and get plenty of exercise. I want to be that guy in his 50’s who is so enthusiastic about growth and change that I lead the next generation into growth and change.
There is so much a 50 (or 60 or 70 or 80) year-old man can do if he stays young in heart and mind. There are so many dreams that can be fulfilled by older men and women that can lead and inspire younger folks to dream and plan and live fully alive.
Let’s be sure we don’t write someone off just because they don’t fit in the ‘young leader’ demographic. Let’s recognize the energy and enthusiasm of those who might be a little older but who are living life fully alive with no plans of slowing down. I plan to be that guy!
There is a little story in the book of Ezra that has taught me a great lesson regarding how to view the future, God’s plans for my future, and how to fulfill God’s vision for my life. I think the lesson could be for all of us.
The book of Ezra starts with Israel’s efforts to rebuild the Temple of God, how they organized themselves, and how they would begin their work. In chapter 3, we read that the people of Israel began offering burnt offerings to God even from the very first day of the construction of the Temple. The Temple’s foundation had not yet been laid.
The vision that the Israelites had from that first day was so vivid in their minds that they were offering gifts of thanksgiving to God from the very first day of construction. In their mind, the rebuilding of the Temple was a done deal because God had birthed that vision in their minds and they knew He was always faithful.
That’s the way it can be with our dreams, too, as we align them with God’s plans for us. Can we dream big dreams, pray through them and know that they align with God’s plan for us, and then start thanking Him for the completion of those dreams from day one? Yes, it takes faith on our part, but it also takes a commitment from us to dream God-dreams, to listen to Him as He plants those dreams in our heart, and to receive His dream for us so deeply that we know that successful completion of the dream is a certainty. The Israelites in Ezra’s day did just that.
What’s your dream? Have you prayed through it? Are you so confident in God’s fulfillment of the dream that you are ready to start thanking Him for it, even from day one?
Kathy and I got to enjoy some vacation time recently as we had the chance to go visit my family in Tennessee. It had been a year since Kathy had a chance to go to Tennessee to visit and almost a year since we had a chance to get away together for some time to recharge and rejuvenate so we were really excited to go. We had an awesome trip, got to visit with family, and even had a little time to relax.
One of the things that we realized as we were away together is that we have experienced some amazing ‘who would have ever thought…’ experiences with each other and with our families. We have experienced miraculous family breakthroughs and miraculous relational healings. We have experienced great growth in ourselves as we have had the chance to minister to others that we never expected to minister with. We have grown friendships that have seemed God ordained. It has truly been an amazing and fruitful year for us.
The funny thing is, though, how easy it is to lose sight if these events in our lives and let Satan discourage us because our ‘day-to-day’ isn’t moving us in the direction we expect as quickly as we expect. We realized this in our lives and we were saddened to realize that we had let Satan steal our joy about all of the miracles we have seen.
So, we have chosen to focus on these ‘who would have ever thought…’ things in our life and it has made all the difference in the world. We see our circumstances in a different light and we are eagerly anticipating more ‘who would have thought…’ moments as we close out 2012 and begin 2013.
Where is your focus? I encourage you to reflect on where God has brought you from and the miracles, as small as they might seem, that He has performed in your life to bring you there. Don’t let the enemy steal your joy! Circumstances are as they are but your outlook on the things God has done for you over the years can make all the difference in your life as you let Him encourage you to persevere in what He has called you to do.
Have you ever considered how risky life is? As much as we want to make our lives risk-averse, you have to admit that life can be risky. We can make our kids wear helmets when they ride their bicycles, but there is still some risk to it. We can slather on the sun-screen when the sun is beating down on us, but there is still a risk we take to be outside having summer fun. The bottom-line truth is that life is risky.
That’s what I thought about today as I was reading 2 Kings 7. There’s a piece in there where four lepers were discussing life, weighing their options, and choosing to take a risk. The Message tells the story like this:
It happened that four lepers were sitting just outside the city gate. They said to one another, “What are we doing sitting here at death’s door? If we enter the famine-struck city we’ll die. So let’s take our chances in the camp of Aram and throw ourselves on their mercy. If they receive us we’ll live, if they kill us we’ll die. We’ve got nothing to lose.”
I think it’s cool that these guys looked at their circumstances, reviewed their options, and decided to take a risk. And, there were some pretty dire consequences possible if the risk went bad, but they made their decision and they threw themselves in. They decided the reward was worth the risk.
Very few of us are faced with risks with such dire possibilities. Not many of our risks end up in immediate death. But, so many of us spend so much time and energy trying to be risk-averse and play it safe that we miss out on so much that God has planned for us. Sure, the downside is failure but the upside is the satisfaction of knowing that your risked so much and God came through for you. You weighed the facts, listened to the Holy Spirit, and took the risk; and God did come through.
We simply have to take risks. Like I said above, life is risky. So, as leaders, we need to be able to know what are risks are, assess our circumstances, listen to the Holy Spirit and the council
of others, and be willing to throw ourselves into the risk that lies before us. If our dreams are really big, then there will surely be some amount of risk involved in reaching them.
I was thinking about the book of Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve recently. Adam was here on earth and God gave him the task of naming all the animals. Adam was an important man with an important task. But, Adam was lonely. He wanted and needed companionship. God saw this and decided to give Adam a helpmate and companion.
Nobody knows Adam’s thoughts about this, but I have to believe Adam was expecting God to give him a companion that looked and acted just like him. I don’t think Adam could imagine anything more than this. Remember, Adam was the only human on earth, he had no point of reference for any companion that would be any different from himself.
Imagine Adam’s surprise when he woke up from the sleep God had put him into! He didn’t see a companion that looked, acted, and smelled like him. God gave him Eve! God saw Adam’s need for a companion, heard Adam’s desire for a companion, and fulfilled that desire far beyond Adam’s wildest imagination! God saved his most glorious and beautiful creation to be a companion for Adam.
God is like that. He gives us dreams to dream and then He delivers far beyond our expectations. God has given me some dreams that are pretty big. And, I believe (I really believe) God will fulfill those dreams far beyond whatever I can imagine.
Whoever you are, whatever you do, I urge you to dream BIG dreams! Ask God to give you BIG dreams. Seek His will, listen to His voice, and be amazed at how God fulfills those BIG dreams beyond your wildest imagination!