I can remember like yesterday when Randy Stonehill first came out with his song, “Turning Thirty.” Great song, but it made me feel old. I’ve got a couple years on him so I had already passed that milestone. I do not plan on writing a song, “Turning Seventy.” As a matter of fact, I’d just as soon have this day pass quietly. Slip right on by. (That’s kind of hard, however, with a social media birthday message popping up on my screen every 30 seconds. How will I thank all of you? There’s one from the guy across the hall from me in college. How cool is that?)
Seventy is old, at least I’ve always thought it was. “Some old guy in his seventies,” is not a phrase you’re going to hear from me anymore. Especially when I don’t feel seventy. This feels like just another day. In fact, it’s my jogging day.
Actually I feel more like eighty-five in a Caleb sort of way, as in Joshua and …. Joshua and Caleb were the only two guys who were not afraid of the Canaanites when they went in and spied out the Promised Land. Twelve went in, and ten came back with a bad report. “There are giants in the land,” they said. “We’re like grasshoppers in their sight.” And because of that, God abandoned them to the wilderness to wander around for 40 years until they all died off — all, that is, but Joshua and Caleb.
So when they did finally go into the land across the Jordan River, and Joshua got ready to divide it up between the tribes, here’s what Caleb had to say:
“You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land. And I brought him back a report according to my convictions, but my fellow Israelites who went up with me made the hearts of the people melt in fear. I, however, followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. So on that day Moses swore to me, ‘The land on which your feet have walked will be your inheritance and that of your children forever, because you have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly.’
“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.”
Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the Lord, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly.
You’ve got to love this guy. He’s basically saying on his 85th birthday, “Give me the giants. I’m just as strong as I was 45 years ago. Lord willing I will drive them out. We might be grasshoppers in their sight but what are they in God’s sight? That’s the only comparison that’s relevant to this discussion. What are they in God’s sight?”
Marti loves Caleb too. In fact she wants me to see if there’s a woman somewhere in the story with the same attitude because that’s just how she feels. We’ve been wandering around for forty years in the wilderness of the Christian subculture going nowhere; it’s time to go in and take the land. It’s time to claim the promise. It’s time to take the Gospel of Welcome to everyone, everywhere.