What do you do when people or circumstances have put your dreams on hold?
If you are familiar with the story of Exodus, God freed the Israelites from cruel slavery in Egypt. They were supposed to go the Promised Land but they failed to trust God. Instead, they clamored to hoof back to Egypt. So God sentenced those who were 40 years old and up to die in the desert, except Moses, Joshua and Caleb.
Fast forward four decades later. Moses had died; his successor Joshua was leading the second generation to conquer the Promised Land. Guess who stepped up with an audacious request? Caleb, who was by then a senior citizen!
In a stirring speech, he told Joshua, “Now, then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty five years… So here I am today, eighty five years old. I am still as strong today…. 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 that the [enemies] were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”
Wow! He kept his dream alive by about 40 years! How did he do it? Here are Caleb’s secrets:
Keep your mind on God’s purposes. God wanted to give Caleb a piece of the Promised Land. Despite the arduous forty years of wandering in the desert, the vision of his inheritance continued to blaze within Caleb. He never let go of his dream. After the forty years were over, he had a second chance to claim the hill country that was his share of the Promised Land.
What is the “hill country” that God has laid in your heart? We need to be energized by a compelling sense of what God wants us to do with our lives. Without a vision of that hill country, we slide into mediocre living.
Keep your heart from regrets or bitterness. Have you noticed that there was not a trace of rancor in Caleb’s speech? Remember that the first generation were stuck in the desert for 40 years... and blameless Caleb was stuck with them!
He could have grumbled, “This is unfair! I should be exempted from this punishment!” His spirit could have been soured by deep resentment not only against his fellow Israelites, but against God Himself. But no. He remained as vibrant and faithful as ever.
Keep your body in great shape. Can you imagine Caleb thundering, “Now give me this hill country!” then wheezed and collapsed? I love the part of his speech where he boasted, “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.”
On a practical level, we are to stay physically fit. We want to pursue our lifelong dream, but we can’t do it if we are battling diabetes or incapacitated by a stroke.
It is not that life gets to take things from us as the years crawl by. It is what we put into life. Or more precisely, it is what God will put into our life as we travel with Him. Like Caleb, let us put into our life a passion for God, a spirit brimming with grace, and a body kept fit for the challenge.
In due time, we will conquer our hill countries!
Photo credit from Rostyslav Savchyn, Unsplash
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