You’d expect him to be tired. He’s been wandering in the desert for forty years, doing time for a crime he did not commit, a crime he tried to prevent. He is eighty five years old, and finally, free from his sentence, he has reached the land of his retirement. A place to stop. A place to rest.
But Caleb, a man of faith, faith and unmatched courage, will not rest. Not yet. He says to Joshua, his friend and equal:
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.”
Caleb’s inheritance, it seems, is teeming with Anakites. Giants. And Caleb, a thirty five year member of AARP, is “vigorous to go out to battle.”
I heard a preacher say that Caleb isn’t the only one with giants in the land of his inheritance, and I knew he was right.
Because there are giants in my way, too.
It’s not that God hasn’t given me an inheritance. He has. He’s drenched me in blessing—talents, resources, opportunities. When I was young and naive I thought it would be easy to grab hold of them and delight in them. But now, firmly in adult territory, I’ve realized that taking hold of my inheritance takes a lot of giant-slaying.
Take for instance writing. I like to write. I think maybe it’s the inheritance I’ve been assigned. I look over the hills and past the giants and I see a land flowing with milk and honey. I see a career and an opportunity to reach lots and lots of people with the beauty and glory of God. When I allow my mind to wander I see myself in a room, spare and white, sunlight pouring in, blurring the hard edges of reality. I sit at a table and type words. Alone.
But today is not like my imagined tomorrow.
Today I will try to cram writing into a tiny window of time, a window that could evaporate in a moment should, for instance, my daughter’s school call to say she has a fever.
Today, I write at the kitchen table or at Starbucks. In both places I keep my head down and try to make myself small, hoping no one will notice me or “need” me.
Today, my talent is smallish, and I don’t have the patience to feed it and take it for a walk.
Today, my mind is crammed with a too-long to-do list, and putting words into shapely sentences takes a backseat to laundry or groceries or other sorts of world-ordering.
Today, I often lack the courage to envision tomorrow.
These are the giants standing between me and my inheritance: errands, clutter, exhaustion, distraction… And if I let them, they will steal what is rightly mine.
The Israelites, when they first saw those Anakites, said “We are like grasshoppers in our own eyes.”
In the presence of what seemed insurmountable, the Israelites took one look at themselves and said, “Small.”
I could do the same. I am small.
But I don’t want to be a wandering, faithless coward. I want to march into the land of my inheritance. And I can do it, like Caleb, with “the Lord helping me.”