Growing Old Like Caleb

I turned 65 this year. There are a couple of different ways to take that statement (which is true, by the way).

First, there are a lot of younger people who would think, “Wow! That’s old!” Some of those people might tend to write someone off as being feeble, senile, forgetful, fuddy-duddy, or something else useless.

Others more my contemporary might say with a sense of futility, “Sixty-five, huh? Welcome to the club. Now you can retire, live on a fixed income, take lots of medications, and sit around swapping stories about what ails you.” They see growing old as an inevitable bummer of life.

I’ve begun to realize that a lot of older people become nearly invisible. They no longer matter. They’re not the building blocks of a church, a business, or even a family. They’re consigned to a soft chair in the corner.

I have other plans for growing old when I do. I want to grow old like Caleb. Only Caleb and Joshua had a vision and faith for what God wanted Israel to do: go in and take the land of Canaan. Sadly, because they were in the minority, their votes didn’t count. And so, along with the entire vast company of Israel, Caleb and Joshua had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years—because of someone else’s sin.

But they apparently didn’t let that “minor” (40 years) setback change their view of God or of themselves. Here’s Caleb’s testimony at the age of 85:

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 wilderness. 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. Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said. – Joshua 14:10-12

God did this because Caleb followed the Lord wholeheartedly (Numbers 32:12; Deuteronomy 1:36; Joshua 14:8). Also, Caleb’s words and claims were not those of a doting old man. He followed through with what he said he’d do and was successful (Judges 1:20). That’s why I want to grow old like Caleb.

Rob Fischer