Messages for Calebs II: Living a long, healthy, and fruitful life or What to do if you’re a Senior Citizen and Obama Healthcare becomes law
Caleb was a vigorous 40-year-old Israelite soldier who was ready to invade Canaan as God had commanded. He had seen God’s power demonstrated ten times in Egypt to deliver the Israelites from a life of slavery, and had decided to follow the God of Israel fully and wholeheartedly. Now he was ready to receive his inheritance from God in Canaan. But Caleb turned out to be one of only two adult Israelite men who wanted to obey the Lord. The others had a spirit of fear and doubt which caused them to disobey the Lord’s command to invade Canaan. Instead of fearing the God who had saved them from slavery, they feared the Canaanites. Their rebellion brought God’s holy anger upon them. They would die off in the desert over the next forty years; none of them would see the Promised Land.
Forty-five years later, Caleb prepared to take his inheritance in Canaan. Listen to his testimony:
Joshua 14:10 “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 desert. 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. 12 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.”
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 [fully].’
At the very advanced age of 85 years, Caleb was still in good health. This is amazing in light of the statistic that a baby born in the United States in 2006 had a life expectancy of 78.1 years. Not only did this 85-year-old former slave from some three and a half millennia ago outlive the average American today, he was incredibly still vigorous enough to go to war and to fight at that age! We disciples who would like to live a long healthy life may have something to learn from Caleb.
Following God wholeheartedly without fear and doubt
Caleb is known for following the Lord fully and wholeheartedly. He believed in the God of Israel who had delivered them from slavery. He had no fear or doubt that they could defeat the militarily superior Canaanites because the Lord was with them. Thus he did not hesitate to obey His command to possess the Promised Land.
Fear and doubt do not please the Lord. Disobeying His commands displeases Him. Is it possible that fear, doubt, and disobedience have negative consequences on physical health?
Caring for God’s temple: our physical bodies
Because of the unbelief of the other Israelites, Caleb’s inheritance was put on hold for some forty years while the others died off in the desert. While there may have been some disappointment at the lengthy delay, Caleb held on to God’s promise. When he saw his contemporaries one by one succumb to sickness and death over the years stretching into decades, he did not wallow in self-pity and slide into physical inactivity and deterioration. Instead, he knew that the fulfillment of God’s promise to him was getting ever closer. We can imagine Caleb taking good care of his physical body over the forty years in anticipation of the day when he would invade the land and possess his inheritance. This is a man of great faith.
In the same way, God has work for us to do. We must labor while it is still day; the works of the enemy kingdom must be destroyed until Christ returns. The Kingdom of God must be proclaimed to the lost, the sick must be healed, all nations must be discipled before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord. After we complete our work we will go to the Lord to receive our reward and our inheritance. But in order to complete all the good works which God has prepared in advance for us to do, we must remain healthy and vigorous like Caleb.
Our personal testimony
My wife and I began to serve the Lord full-time thirty-one years ago in 1978 as pioneer missionaries to a primitive and untouched region in Indonesian Borneo. Indonesia has more Muslims than any other nation on earth. Just two years earlier in 1976 I made Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior. In 1977 I experienced the love of Jesus Christ in a very powerful and intimate way. The following year we went to Indonesia in obedience to Christ’s Great Commission. At that time I had not quite finished reading the Bible. We went by faith alone having no financial support from any church and no mission board to send us. No church or organization in Indonesia had invited us or was expecting us. We flew into the jungle island of Borneo without knowing where we were going to stay or what we were going to do after arriving. We did not allow fear or doubt to stop us from obeying God’s command to go. As a result, the Lord was faithful and opened the way for us to proclaim His Kingdom with power. He graciously made us fruitful during nearly nine years of ministry in Borneo. That is how we began our ministry for the kingdom of God thirty-one years ago.
Download our testimony: Dancing on the Edge of the Earth
The Lord is pleased when like Caleb we follow Him fully and wholeheartedly—when we resist the fear and doubt which seek to discourage us from obeying His command. When he is pleased with us, He can enable us to stay healthy and vigorous so that we can complete all the good works He has ordained for us.
Numbers 14:8 “If the LORD is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us.
Self-control & self-discipline
The Lord has given me the grace for self-control in my diet. I do not overeat, but limit myself to eating mostly healthy foods. Although I enjoyed “junk food” in my younger years, I am now able to exercise self-control and deny myself. I abstain from soft drinks. Rarely do I touch red meat; fish, especially salmon, is now a frequent main course. I eat lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, and nuts. (Once in a while I’ll enjoy some ice cream.)
Moreover, I am not a person who by nature enjoys physical activity. But the Lord has given me the self-discipline to exercise every day at a local gymnasium when I am not busy traveling and conducting The Elijah Challenge Training. I do both cardiovascular training as well as weight training. By God’s grace I am physically fit and in good health. A couple of years ago I underwent oral surgery to have an impacted wisdom tooth removed. Before the procedure a nurse took my blood pressure. Knowing my age, she could hardly believe the reading on the blood pressure gauge. The Lord is good.
So here I am today in 2009 having reached an age when people are called Senior Citizens! But I am still as strong today as the day the Lord sent me out to Indonesia; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then thirty-one years ago.
In old age the righteous will stay fresh and green
When we follow the Lord fully and wholeheartedly, He can give us the grace to fulfill the words of the Psalmist:
Psalm 92:12 The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; 13 planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, 15 proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”
In accordance with God’s promise above, I am praying that my wife and I will stay fresh and green into our old age, and continue to bear fruit for Him. We will never “retire” but plan to serve Him actively until the very moment we leave this world. We have no health insurance or retirement to speak of. We have chosen to store our treasure in heaven. The Lord is faithful and “all these things will be given to us as well.”