Monday, April 7, 2008

I Wanna Be Like Caleb

It feels like Spring might really be here! After a couple of warm days, I think we may be able to put our loooong winter behind us. I went out to clean up some of the icky brown leaves that are stuck in every corner and crevice of our yard, and look at what I found!
Those bulbs that I stuck in the ground way back when are coming up! They didn't get down about the snow and cold temperatures, they just did their thing under there. What a lift the daffodils and tulips give me. There isn't even any color yet, just the green shoots popping up is enough to make me happy.

In my reading of the book of Joshua, I'm amazed at the story of Caleb. Remember him? In Joshua 14, Caleb goes to Joshua and requests the land promised to him 45 years earlier. A 45 year-old promise. And I thought our winter was long. Reading about this made me look back at Caleb's story in the book of Numbers (chapters 13 & 14).

When Moses sent twelve spies in to check out the scene in Canaan, only Joshua and Caleb saw it through eyes of faith. They saw that the land was fabulous, and that because God said so, it would be theirs. They said to the Israelites, "It rocks! With God's help, let's go!" But the other ten went on and on about how big the people were, and how it looked impossible to take the land. And the Israelites bought into the fear. God punished all the Israelites by making them wander in the desert for 40 more years, one year for each day that the spies scouted the Promised Land.

I had always known that they spent 40 more years in the desert, but I realized for the first time with this reading that God told them exactly how long it would be. They didn't wander aimlessly wondering if they'd ever find it again. It really was like being grounded. None of the adult Israelites (it says 20 years or older) got to enter the Promised Land--with the exception of Joshua and Caleb. The LORD says "But my servant Caleb is different from the others. He has remained loyal to me, and I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will receive their full share of that land." (Numbers 14:24)

It apparently took 5 more years to take over all that land. So finally, after 45 years, Caleb got his land, and a blessing from Joshua. What a faithful, patient man Caleb must have been. He even had to do more fighting to get his portion of land, and still, at 85 years old, Caleb knows God will give him the strength he needs. Caleb says to Joshua, "I am as strong now as I was when Moses sent me on that journey, and I can still travel and fight as well as I could then....You will remember that as scouts we found the Anakites living there in great, walled cities. But if the LORD is with me, I will drive them out of the land, just as the LORD said." (Joshua 14:11&12)

Wow! I want to have that kid of faith. It reminds me a bit of the tulips, the way they just keep doing their thing under the soil and snow and winter yuck. They aren't discouraged by the old leaves covering them up, they just push right on through. Before you get on my case, I know that tulips don't have faith. But they know what they are created to do and they do it. Caleb knew what God promised him, knew what he was created to do and did it. And he did fight at 85, and did drive all those people out. I want to learn from his story.


Sheila said...

Great insight, Julie. I am going to read that account for myself, right now.
Sure makes me sad that I have a box of tulip bulbs purchased last fall that are sitting in the basement unable to fulfill their calling this spring! I could force them though.

--julie said...

Thanks, Sheila!
It's funny how there are some of those Old Testament stories I've heard a thousand times but never actually read them in the Bible for myself. Turns out there's a lot of info in there, and I've pictured things not quite right....

Reading the Old testament has been an adjustment for me, but clearly, there are fresh, new things in it for me.