If you think you’re too young or old for God to use you, read on . . .
For the first time in my life, I understood what it felt like to be old. For six weeks I did everything slow while recovering from a back injury. I had never had patience for the purple haired lady driving slowly in front of me, or the man with a cane moving through the checkout lane at turtle speed. I had always been impatient with older folks. Now they were my people.
During this time, I read about Caleb – an old man waiting for his promise from God to be fulfilled. He had been forty when Moses sent him with Joshua to spy out the land to capture it for the Israelites. Caleb was young, confident, and strong. He was ready to take the land, but his fellow spies who went with him were afraid. Faith was overruled by fear. As a result, the Israelites wandered in the desert for the next forty years.
Fast-forward to Caleb’s 85th birthday and listen to what he says to Joshua, Moses’ successor.
“Now look. Today I am 85 years old. I’m just as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me out. My strength then was as my strength is now whether for war or for everyday activities. So now, give me this highland that the LORD promised me that day.” Joshua 14:11,12 (CEB) .
I love his feisty faith. He didn’t say, “I’m too old. God can’t use me. Let the younger men do the job. He says, “Now looky here Josh, I’ve been waiting 45 years and I want that land for myself and my children. And I’m not too old. I can still do it. ” His spirit, his enthusiasm, his faith in God hadn’t wavered.
His faith waited and didn’t doubt God’s promise to him.
I also love when Caleb says his strength is “for war or for everyday activities.” I’ve never prayed for strength to go into battle, but I do need it for everyday activities. Caleb had faith for both activities. He believed God was with him no matter what he was doing. In the everyday routine activities of life as well as the major “I may die from this” activity. His faith in God was real, constant, unwavering. I want that kind of faith.
But I don’t believe Caleb was talking about his own strength. In his own strength he would have trembled in fear just like his fellow spies. I think Caleb’s strength was from his confidence in God. He says they (his fellow spies) were afraid, but “I followed the Lord my God fully.” (v.8) And then at age 85, we see that Caleb receives the land promised to him “because he followed the Lord God of Israel fully.” (v. 14).
My Caleb was a lady named Edith May who I met at church when I was in my twenties. She knelt with me on the front pew one day and said, “Dream big dreams, Cheryl.” This from a woman still taking college classes in her eighty’s and writing a book about her life. She was an inspiration. A woman “who followed the Lord fully.” She never stopped loving and living life and believing in the God she served. She was still as strong in her eighty’s as she was in her forty’s because her faith and confidence was in the Lord, not herself.
God doesn’t qualify people based on their age. He uses those willing to believe, willing to risk, willing to go into battle, willing to say “yes”. He also uses us in the simple everyday tasks of life. Our body, our strength, our age does not determine our usefulness to God. Our faith and obedience does.
God is willing to use both the young and old. Moses was an an old man when he lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt. Caleb was 85 in this story, ready to take on an enemy to clear the land for his progeny. John was the last living disciple of Jesus, exiled on the island of Patmos when he wrote Revelation. Mary was a young teenager when the angel of the Lord changed her future. Daniel was in his high school years when he was taken into Babylonian captivity and interpreted the king’s dream. Photo by Bart LaRue on Unsplash
God cares about our heart, not our age.
Caleb and Edith inspire me to not think in terms of just my physical years, but also in my spiritual years. Am I growing stronger spiritually every day, every year? Do I have a faith that is willing to wait and believe when nothing is happening? Do I have a faith that doesn’t quit when it takes longer or is harder than I thought it would be? Do I limit myself or let fear stop me from moving forward? Am I focusing on God’s strength or mine?
That same God who was with Moses, Caleb, Daniel, Mary, and John, is also with me. Sometimes that’s really hard to remember and believe.
We are valuable to God whatever our age – young, middle-aged, or old. He is not done with us unless we choose to be done with him. Don’t believe the lie that God isn’t using you right now where you are, in the battles and everydayness of life. Choose to “follow the Lord fully” and fight on, dearly loved Caleb’s, and Edith’s. Others are looking to you to point them to their inheritance.