Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said. Joshua 14:12, NASV
There are some individuals whose spirits can't be conquered. No matter how they are repressed, how they get hit, they just get up and walk, then run, then climb the heights. They just don't know how to quit. Such was the old man who presented his claim to Joshua in the Bible, "I am eighty-five years old!" he began," but he quickly adds, "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." And then he got to the bottom line: "Give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day!" (Joshua 14:12 NKJV).
Who is this man? Is he slightly senile, or is he a model for us to emulate today? You read about Caleb in Numbers 13 and 14 when Moses sent 12 spies into the Promised Land and ten of the twelve come back moaning and crying about the walled cities and the inhabitants who looked like giants. Only Joshua and Caleb came back saying, "Sure, things are going to be tough. These guys are not going to be a push-over, but the Lord will give us the land."
Then in Joshua 14, Caleb appears. Now he's an old man. He could have said, "Look, I've done my fighting. How about a pension and a cool place to relax while these younger guys go in and do battle?"
Not so. He wanted to be on the cutting edge. "Give me this mountain," he insists. There's another factor which you also need to know. Caleb was a Kenite, so says Scripture, and the Kenites were nomadic blacksmiths, so he couldn't boast of pure Jewish blood. He was a brawny man who probably wielded a blacksmith's hammer and forged muscles to prove he was good at it.
So, he became an adopted son of Abraham, claimed by the tribe of Judah. He proved himself, too. When twelve men needed to spy out the land, he was one of them, probably a volunteer.
Now at age 85, he's ready for battle again. In his book, Lives that Oft Remind Us, E. K. Cox says of Caleb, "Age is measured by the springs of life. When they run dry, men are old at thirty or forty. When they keep running, men are young at a hundred. Old? Get a picture of Joshua galloping down the lines, marshaling Israel for battle! Is Caleb old? Ask someone who marched with him all day, or kept by his side while his sword made a path through the ranks of the enemy."
Caleb took his mountain, and what happened after that? We don't know. Apparently, the historians got tired of waiting and forgot to tell us, but when he went to heaven Israel was the poorer for it.
Like General Douglas MacArthur, who said, "Old soldiers never die; they just fade away!" Caleb took his place among the annals of men who had the courage of their convictions and were willing to stand by them.
I'm still convinced that age is a matter of the mind. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter. Though our bodies may not be as strong as they were at age 40, in spirit we can still soar like eagles and run with the horses.
Today scores of men and women are living longer and longer. Are you one of them? While you may have to pace yourself, don't quit, don't give up, and don't let down the gates of your soul to pessimism and defeatism. As long as God leaves you alive, He has a purpose for you. May God give us more Calebs, men who not only beat iron but have the filings in their soul and their muscles--the determination to never, never give up until God says, "Come on home!"
Resource reading: Joshua 14:6-15