Yesterday my 17 year old son Sam challenged me to an arm wrestle. The last time he tried this he was 11 and it didn’t end well for him – no surprises there. This time he’s 17 and in pretty good shape so this one was going to be just a little harder. I won’t tell you who won, but I do want to think about this thing we call ‘old man strength’ because it’s a real thing.
Lately I’ve been doing some reflection on what the future holds, as we are currently in a role shift at church where our two younger guys will be leading QBC and Yanchep Church and Danelle and I will move back into support roles. I have been trying to imagine what I/we could do of real value over the next 20 years – which would take us through to 75. I kinda thought 75 might be a good age at which to begin to slow down and lower my expectations of myself – to cruise into port with the engines off.
Then I read Joshua ch 14 this morning and had that idea utterly trashed. I’ve been struggling with reading this book each morning – partly its contentious content (genocide) and partly that it’s plain boring. Reading about the division of land among tribes is right up there with studying the phone book.
But I stumbled on ch 14 early this morning, where Caleb comes to Joshua and says ‘Ok mate – so here we are a whole 45 years on from the promise Moses made to us about entering the land and settling there.
How could Joshua forget a moment like that?
‘We went and checked out Canaan and came back convinced we could take it. Remember?…’
So this 85 year old is standing before his mate Joshua asking for what is due to him in that promise. And as I read that I had a mental image of him quietly moving into a beautiful, lush land and settling there with his clan and spending his final days in ease and comfort.
Hmmm… Not so.
Read on to hear how Caleb sees the world. Old man strength is about to reveal itself.
“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.””
(Joshua 14:10-12 NIV)
The dude is 85…
85 years old and he’s ready to fight anyone who stands in his path.
In his view he is just as strong now as he was at 40 years old, and honestly there is no way he has the physical capacity he once had, but mentally and in terms of faith he’s a beast.
He’s not going to quietly plonk down in a little patch of paradise and sip lattes. He is going to drive out the Anakites – the giant like, warmongering tribe who engendered terror in the rest of Israel.
He has seen God at work before – many times. He has lived a life of faithfulness so at 85 he’s not scared – because he knows his God and he knows just what is possible when he is leading the way and when he follows him wholeheartedly.
So I feel like I’ve set the bar a bit low.
Quite seriously – this morning was one of those occasional personal revelations you get from God where he says ‘Listen up… Come on… Really? You think slowing down at 75 is gonna be it? You need to dream and plan for getting to 85 with energy to burn!’
We have been in vocational ministry now for 30 years and I am 55 years old. If this happens – that we get to live thru to 85 – then we are at the halfway point and maybe our best is yet to come.
Actually I have no doubt that is true, so as from now the bar has been re-set from ‘slowing down at 75’ to reaching 85 with courage, faith and passion to burn.
I was planning to surf thru to 70 and take a day at a time after that, but perhaps this needs adjusting too 🙂 I’ve never seen an 85 year old in the line up – not yet anyway…
Oh and who won that arm wrestle?.. if you’ve read this far you deserve to know… Let’s just say ‘old man strength is a real thing’…
The story of Caleb has always been a motivation to me and reading this has strengthened my resolve. Being ‘fruitful in old age’ and wearing out rather than rusting out should be encouraged in our churches.
Thanks Graham – I can see you doing this
Another great article Andrew and 75 is far too young to stop! We moved to Nottingham when my mum was 85 and there she was packing up her house like a 20 year old. We arrived and she was altering curtains to fit, making cushions covers etc. and she carried on like that until she was 98. An example to us all. Gewt back in that ring and fight and well done with the arm wrestle. You can’t be beaten by your son!!
That’s brilliant Gloria!