When the pressures of life in early years are passed and we are no longer trying to impress others with our skill, ambition, and good looks, we are left with what really counts – our faith, our fidelity, and family. It is within these three areas that our work as senior saints lies.
A Work of Faith
Caleb, a slave in Egypt, saw Moses and Aaron come out of the desert. He watched the miraculous signs the Lord used to convince the children of Israel that He was going to deliver them. From then on, the gods of Egypt lost their attraction (Exo 4:30, 31). In faith, Caleb looked to the one true God. His faith was tested, but Caleb never wavered.
He must have wondered if it was a waste of time to spy out Canaan. God had already told them the land was theirs. Why not just go in and take it? But, as a man under authority, he went with 11 others to survey the land. God’s promise was good enough for Caleb, but not for others. Their moral condition affected them as these 10 men saw obstacles, while Caleb and Joshua saw opportunities for God to work. Young people today need us to show them how to trust God just as Caleb did.
Why should we waste our time investigating what God has promised to give us? It is up to those of us who are older to communicate the necessity of focusing on the good, the gospel and the commission we have received, not on the bad things happening around us. Let the generations following hear from our lips the Word of God that has worked in our lives. Let us teach the young the value of faith in God. Let’s pray with them and search the Scriptures with them. This is our work today.
A Work of Fidelity
Imagine Caleb, at age 40, standing with Joshua in front of Moses. Ten pessimistic men stir up fear in God’s people about the land. Then, Caleb boldly silences them expressing his fidelity to God: “Let us go up at once and take possession; for we are well able to overcome it” (Num 13:30).
There are times when older saints need to show younger ones how to stand alone for God. Trends and new laws pressure our young to abandon what has been proven to be based on God’s Word. The appeal is to adopt what is “seeker friendly” and acceptable to the majority. Caleb’s confidence, though, was not in military might, but in God. Older saints are not just cheerleaders. They can, by experience, press the necessity of true fidelity to God whose promises are “Yea and Amen.”
It is strange, but true, that those who do not live by faith are more concerned about the negative than the positive. “We can’t because …” is a phrase often used as an excuse by those who are fearful of making mistakes. “We can because God is with us,” are words of unwavering fidelity. Caleb and Joshua tore their clothes expressing the seriousness of unbelief before challenging the crowd by saying, “If the Lord delight in us … rebel not ye against the Lord … The Lord is with us: fear them not” (Num 14:8-9).
We have learned God by experience, making choices according to Scripture. The opinions and actions of others do not detour us from “the path of the just (which) is as the shining light” (Prov 4:18). We can now lead our brothers and sisters through situations that are difficult without knowing what will happen. We “have lived in all good conscience” (Acts 23:1) and are committed to following Him, even though we only know the next step we should take. Words like, “That doesn’t make sense,” or “That isn’t realistic,” do not faze us, since we have proven that we can trust God to accomplish His will. Our work as senior saints then, is not only to teach the value of faith, but also to live it, even if the majority is against us.
Forty-five years later at the age of 85, Caleb boldly stepped up to claim his allotment in the Promised Land. For years he had waited while attending burials and fighting battles. Now, as he and his three sons and daughter stepped forward, he declared, “Give me this mountain” (Josh 14:12). This older believer who was rich in character and faith, knew his God. He was not a complicated person. His faith in God had not diminished in old age. Clearly, Caleb had a different spirit. He saw triumph when others trembled. He wholeheartedly followed while others grumbled and rebelled. He had had enough of Egypt, the wilderness, and idolatry, and was now claiming the promise of God for himself and for his family.
A Work of Family
True delight in the Lord and obedience to Him will impact our families. Our children are not fooled; they know whether our faith and fidelity are authentic. For all those years, Caleb lived before his family. Now, as the oldest in the nation, he stood with firm legs, a strong back and a confident voice. He had not wavered morally, physically, or spiritually, and his children undoubtedly admired his consistency. So when he claimed the high ground, his family knew that he expected them to follow. While there is no guarantee, may we so live that our families will also know we long for them to wholeheartedly follow the Lord as well.
Experiencing the grace of God produces Christlikeness and a sweet and gracious spirit that our family needs to see. They need to know that their real inheritance is the spiritual treasures we have received from God. Hebron, the city of refuge Caleb gave to the Levites, and all the hill country where Abraham had lived, was his. He was not hesitant to express his gratefulness to God. We, too, appreciate God’s goodness in prolonging our lives for some reason. May we have Caleb’s faith and sweet spirit in twilight years, because as grandparents, we have a great opportunity to influence our grandchildren and future generations for God.
Imagine Caleb standing on high ground when his daughter, who was to marry a valiant man, came to him. She knew her father, so she did not try to use guile. She had learned from him to be straightforward and simple, and she trusted him to do what was right. He probably smiled with deep satisfaction when she copied him by saying, “Give me a blessing … give me also springs of water” (Josh 15:19). He had given her land facing the Negev to the south. Now she needed water, so he gave her upper springs to flow down at seedtime and lower springs for water even in the drought of summer. Clearly, family work is not finished as long as we are alive.
It is possible that we may not live to see the benefits of our work in old age. However, we can trust that our “work of faith” will produce fruit in those coming behind us. We may be disconcerted with the lack of commitment we see, but if we remain true in our service, our example of fidelity to the Lord is perhaps the best work we will do. As we look at our family for the last time, if they could say, “Father and Mother, thank you for all you have taught us by words and example. We will see you shortly in the morning.” With that, we will be extremely satisfied.