Just when the Colonel was settling into a comfortable, self-imposed, re-retirement routine of not giving a rip about nothin' or nobody, the Good Lord gets his undivided attention with a reading of His word.
The Colonel has read the book of Joshua in whole or in part many times in his life, and, true to the way God works, nearly each study has provided a different lesson.
This lesson hurt -- convicting the Colonel of an error, to add to the many he already recognizes, in his spiritual walk.
In the 14th Chapter of the Old Testament Book of Joshua, the writer pauses in his recounting of the allocation of the Promised Land among the tribes of Israel to relate the actions of Caleb.
Caleb comes to Joshua, the man God ordained to lead the Hebrews into the Promised Land upon the death of Moses, and reminds Joshua of a significant event in both of their lives 45 years before.
A little more than a year after leaving Egypt, Moses led the nation of Israel away from Mount Sinai and straight to the southern borderlands of Canaan -- the Negev Desert. As any good operational leader should, Moses sent a long-range reconnaisance patrol north (Numbers 13: 17-20).
Caleb and Joshua were two of twelve "spies" sent north. When the twelve spies returned, they brought good news and bad news.
The good news: The land from which their patriarch Jacob (aka: Israel) had fled to Egypt to escape famine was once again rich and bountiful.
The bad news: In the Hebrew nation's 400-year absence from the Promised Land, other peoples had settled the land and built strong, heavily-defended, walled cities.
More bad news: Some of those walled cities housed "giants" (Numbers 13: 31-33).
The other ten spies focused the report of their reconnaisance patrol on the bad news and, although Joshua and Caleb counseled that God would deliver the land into their hands no matter the seeming insurmountable odds and obstacles, the Hebrew people collapsed into open revolt calling for a return to the "safety" of Egypt.
God's judgement on His people for this lack of faith in Him was to condemn them to forty years of exile, wandering in the wilderness, until the unfaithful generation (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) had all died.
The Nation of Israel's wandering eventually took them north along the eastern side of the Dead Sea. After Moses' death, God commissioned Joshua to lead the Hebrew army west across the Jordan River north of the Dead Sea.
For the next several years, the Hebrew army executed an invasion campaign that defeated a total of 31 kingdoms, and, in the aftermath of this campaign, Joshua divided up the land between the tribes.
As Joshua was divvying up the Promised Land, his old reconnaisance patrol mate, Caleb, came to him with a reminder and a request.
The writer of the Book of Joshua relates Caleb's words thus:
“You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God at Kadesh Barnea about you and me. 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, 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. 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.'
“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! 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.” (Numbers 14: 6b-12 NIV)
Joshua remembered, and kept Moses' promise to Caleb.
Heretofore the Colonel has always read this passage as a retirement reward for Caleb's, and, by extension any man of God's, life of faithfulness.
But, take a look at the last sentence of Caleb's request above.
Caleb was asking Joshua to fulfill the promise of Moses by giving him choice land... on which giant enemies still lived!
Some "retirement" gift!
Only Caleb, 85 years young, wasn't retiring. He still had giants to face. The writer of Joshua later tells us that, with God's help, Caleb conquered the giants in his territory.
So, what is the point toward which the Colonel has led you in no doubt frantic anticipation?
Glad you asked.
1. The Colonel is convicted that there is no retirement from the Lord's work here on earth.
2. The Colonel is convicted that one must be careful what one asks of God. Even the greatest blessings may still harbor great responsibility.
3. God is in the giant-killing business, and the battle against our "giants" belongs to the Lord.
Now, where did the Colonel leave that slingshot?