Yes! The only thing that keeps us from accomplishing what we set out to do is the restraints we put upon ourselves. In the spiritual realm, we’re often underachievers because we limit God's power in our lives.
As we age, we begin to picture how life is to be finished. Our culture believes that at a certain age we stop all meaningful activity, especially in the realm of the spiritual, and then we just sort of vegetate until death comes and finalizes the process.
It’s interesting to me, however, that as you read the Bible carefully, you can never find support for such a process.
Back in the 13th chapter of Joshua, the very first words tell us that Joshua was old and stricken in years. If you search through the Bible, you’ll find that phrase 6 times—“Old and stricken in years." And in 5 out of the 6 times that phrase is used to describe someone who is about to experience the greatest event of their life.
I want to live confidently like Caleb, serving God right up to the edge. I hope you are setting standards now that say, "I'm going to live for God wide open all the way to the end." Our early attitudes, feelings, and thinking set the stage for the way we live later. Keep looking into the future with vision, planning for God to do great things in your life.
We are to serve the Lord all the days of our lives up until the very end.
Follow Caleb’s example. Three basic principles guaranteed his success and set him apart from those who failed.
Secret number one was a vigorous spirit. Caleb said he was just as vigorous, just as strong, at age 85 as he was when he was 40 (Joshua 14:11). So, he maintained his physical vigor, his strength, throughout his life. The only ministry you will ever have on planet Earth is in your body. When you wear out this body, where are you going to live? How will you minister or work without a body? The realm of the physical is important.
Secondly, Caleb succeeded where others failed because he had a visionary spirit. From age 40 to 80 plus, Caleb lived with the desert, death, and discouragement. And yet, he maintained such vigor and health that he could say at 85, "I'm just as strong now as I was when I was 40."
Caleb had marched with Joshua through the land of Canaan 40 some years earlier, looking at the land that flowed with milk and honey. They heard the promises God had given concerning this special place He had prepared for them. It superseded anything he had ever seen before.
So while he was marching up and down in the desert, and people were dying off right and left, all Caleb could think about was," One of these days, I'm going over the river and that's going to be my home." And that kept him alive while he was in the desert. He was a very uncomplicated man. He had seen the Promised Land. God had told him he would be in the Promised Land. And every day he lived for that experience.
How does one keep his bearings, marching through the desert of this world as a believer? The Bible says we are pilgrims and strangers; that this world is not our home, we're just passing through. I'll tell you how you keep your bearings. Paul wrote it to the Colossians when he said, "Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth," (Colossians 3:2). “He has gone to prepare a place for us. And… He is coming again to take us, some day, to be in that place” (John 14:2-3 paraphrase).
Thirdly, Caleb succeeded because he had a victorious spirit. God gave Caleb an assignment, and he did it. He took the toughest assignment and completed it, where his contemporaries took lesser assignments and left business undone.
Six times in the 20 or 30 verses about Caleb in the Bible, we’re told that “He wholly followed the Lord.”
Caleb said, “I wholly followed the Lord.” Jesus said, "Here is the great commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart [wholeheartedly]…” (Matthew 22:36-40).
Did you ever see your kids clean up their room half-heartedly? They kind of just kick stuff under the bed, put the bedspread up over the dirty clothes, that sort of thing? Have you ever done anything half-heartedly? Sure you have. Your heart's not in it. You just go through the motions.
To be wholehearted is the exact opposite of being half-hearted. It means to pull out all the stops, don't leave anything on the table. Don't reserve anything for the future, but say, "God, You've got all of me there is to have. I'm pulling out all the stops. I'm going to give You all my heart. Whatever You say to me, I'm going to do it. I'm going to give my energy to You and this task you have put before me." And when you follow the Lord wholly, you will know the blessing of God.
And if you follow the Lord wholeheartedly, it won’t make any difference how old you are. Caleb said, “This is what God said, and I’m not afraid to be counted.” He wholly followed the Lord in the desert, when watching all his friends die, and seeing all the discouragement and complaining, when crossing over the Jordan, and selecting his portion of God’s Promised Land. He just kept his eyes fully on God’s promise. He knew what the Lord wanted and did it.
Today, we need to pray: “O, God, You be the Lord of whatever is left. Show me Your purpose for my life, and help me follow You into the future. Give me vigor, and help me realize that my body is important. Give me a sense of vision. When You give me an assignment, I pray that I’ll not leave it undone. That I will not take credit for victory when there’s still a lot to be done. And, Father, in spite of all the pressure and problems, the heat in the desert, the death of those around me, the discouragement, help me make a new commitment today that by Your grace I am going to wholly follow You, my God. I give You thanks that You have made it possible for me to make such a commitment. In Jesus’ name. Amen!”