Admittedly, I’m never going to be any kind of old man given my gender, but I love this question. MacDonald asks it in his book ‘The Life God Blesses’. It catches my imagination somehow.
I have to be honest, at 29, I don’t aspire to be old. In fact, along with the rest of my generation, I somewhat dread it. Who wants to be old, after all? Wise, yes. Old, no. It’s just not an attractive concept. Limbs that ache constantly, pains in places I never knew really existed, memory loss, reduced mobility – bring it on…not!
But there is something about age which is positive. Or it can be.
What kind of old person I’m going to be depends very much on what kind of character traits I choose to build into my life now. Maybe I have to accept that I’ll be doddery and somewhat lacking in the memory department but if I can also be wise then maybe the rest is just one of those things.
MacDonald presents the example of Caleb. 85 years old, he is still going strong. At forty, he believed God to take Israel into the Promised Land, but because of the nation’s unbelief and fear, his dream got postponed for forty-five years. Now most of us would have given up on God by then; we’d have found a vision which was less costly and dreams which might actually stand a chance of becoming reality. But Caleb keeps believing and, at the grand old age of 85, is ready for his opportunity when it comes.
What I find even more amazing about this guy is that when Israel gets into Canaan, he doesn’t ask for a nice square of farmland where he can grow old(er!) and die with his people. He demands the hill country, a land which is difficult to capture, full of the Anakites and their fortified cities. At 85, this old man is still fighting giants because he knows that his dream has not yet come to pass and God has not yet finished with him.
Caleb’s ‘toughness…enthusiasm and…enormous faith are no accident. They flow from below his personal waterline’, writes MacDonald. Indeed, the Biblical account seems to suggest that Caleb consistently chose to organise his life around God’s promises. This is one of those things which made him the kind of old man he became.
What promises has God given you? Not the little ones which even you can see how he might fulfil. But what BIG promises are out there waiting for you?
I know what he’s promised to me and it’s so big that I don’t have a hope of seeing it happen…except if HE brings it to pass. Maybe I will even be 85 before I see his faithfulness in this. But ‘I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD’ while I live. Do you?