Finish Strong

It’s the final month of school for most of our students and people are starting to think about finals, summer jobs, traveling, internships, and all that good stuff. And, it is a super busy season for us…readying new leaders, finishing well relationally, planning new things, evaluating the year, etc, etc, etc. All on top of the normal rhythms of groups and one-on-ones and meetings.

I’m ready for vacation.

But I don’t want to check out early. At our last leadership community I shared with our students the story of Caleb. I always come back to Caleb when I think about finishing well, finishing strong.

Consider Caleb’s example (you can read about him in Numbers 13 and 14)…

  • He was one of only two Israelite spies (Joshua was the other) who saw how good the promised land was and believed the people could take it over.
  • He was sold out by the other 10 spies who freaked out because of the “giants in the land” and their weapons.
  • He and Joshua were the only two people from his generation allowed to enter the promised land.
  • He had to wander around the desert while his contemporaries died out, all the while knowing the good things he was missing out on. He had to question his fate a ton, I would think.
  • He went to a lot of funerals and dug a lot of graves.
  • And then, God picked Joshua to be the leader to take over from Moses. Joshua got the book deal, the twitter followers, the big church. Caleb had his life and his family and a hope for a plot of land.

If anyone had an excuse to give up, to lose hope, to become cynical or bitter or entitled or frustrated or angry or to quit, it was Caleb.

We don’t know much about what Caleb did for those 40 years, but we know how his story ends. He shows up again in Joshua 14. Everyone else had received their allotment of land, and finally Caleb says, “It’s time for me to take mine.”

And we read this:

6 Now the people of Judah approached Joshua at Gilgal, and Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the LORD said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 7 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, 8 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. 9 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.’

10 “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! 11 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. 12Now 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.”

13 Then Joshua blessed Caleb son of Jephunneh and gave him Hebron as his inheritance. 14 So Hebron has belonged to Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite ever since, because he followed the LORD, the God of Israel, wholeheartedly. 15 (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)

Then the land had rest from war.

Somehow, through all that, he still followed God wholeheartedly. He finished strong.

I love that image of 85-year-old Caleb still looking for a fight, still ready to go, still throwing himself fully into the work God had asked him to do. And somehow all of that contributed to peace in the land.

When I get tired I think about Caleb…I want to finish strong too.

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