One of my favorite characters in Scripture is Caleb. You probably remember he and Joshua were the only two Jewish spies who returned from their mission to the land God had had promised with a report of a land waiting to be taken. The other ten spies could only see the giants in the land, causing them to counsel against crossing the Jordan into the Promised Land. The people chose to listen to the ten and refused to cross. As a result an entire generation was left to wander in the desert for forty years. (Read Numbers 13 and 14 for the complete story of the Twelve Spies.)
Of the entire generation, only Joshua and Caleb were allowed to cross into the Promised Land. The first thirteen chapters of the Book of Joshua describe the conquest of the land God had promised. In chapter fourteen we find Caleb, who was eight-five years old, requesting he be given the hill country called Hebron. It is important to note this was the home of the Anakim, who caused the original ten spies to caution the people against entering the land. Listen to the words of Caleb: “I am still as strong today, as I was in the day Moses sent me, as my strength was then, so my strength is now, for war and for going out and coming in” (Joshua 14:11 NASB, bold print added.) (Read Joshua 14 for the complete story of Caleb’s request.)
Since I began making definite plans for my retirement, Caleb has become one of my favorite biblical heroes. He gives new meaning to the expression “finishing strong.” He did not accept the notion that he was old and worn out. He believed God still had work for him to do. He has become a role model for how I want to finish this race called life. He has demonstrated that it is more exciting to burn out than it is to rust out. He inspires me to anticipate the next new thing God has for me to do. He reminds me that we all have a reason for being here. If God was finished with us, He would take us home. He gives me reason to look with excitement at this last season of my life rather than with dread. He gives me the desire to leave a legacy of finishing the race with enthusiasm.
Many of you reading this Reflection are either into the last season of your life or approaching it. How do you want to finish? While we may not be able to do everything we could do years ago, we can still do everything God wants us to do in the years we have left. Our best years may well be in front of us. I encourage you to join me in striving to be able to say as Paul did, when he approached the end of his race: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith (II Timothy 4:7 NASB).