Recently, in conjunction with our Sunday evening series from Joshua, I’ve been studying Caleb. Man, I love this guy! He just didn’t stop. He was a powerful picture of biblical, God-orientated passion in action.
In Joshua 15, Caleb is 85 years old, and he’s waited for more than forty years to receive his promised inheritance. He’s one of the quiet “good guys!” He wasn’t front and center for most of his life, but he was passionate and faithful. He grabbed ahold of God and never let go.
By the time we come to Joshua 15, Caleb is finishing strong. His passion and fervor for God have not faltered. He has “wholly followed” the Lord God for his whole life. And he’s determined to finish as passionate as his former, younger self.
The story is awesome! Caleb inherits a city of giants. Lucky him! So in verse 14, 85-year-old Caleb has mounted his walker, taken his Geritol, and set out for Hebron to kill some giants. And you thought David and Goliath was a great story! This is a senior saint taking on the Baltimore Ravens defensive line. This is the puny little kid on the playground putting three bullies into a head-lock and taking his lunch-money back! This is EPIC!
He wins. He drives them out. Whatever he did, they ran for their lives. Can’t you picture it? Three well-built NBA players running from a seething senior saint. I love Caleb’s undying, faith-filled passion.
Here are some take-aways from Caleb’s passion in action…
1. Caleb wholly followed the Lord God—the product of a whole-hearted devotion is a whole-hearted passion. You cannot fully devote yourself to God without coming into contact with HIS CALL, and that contact is combustible. This is not an emotional fire, not a short-burning zeal, but a real, long-lasting, deep-burning passion for God.
His call on your life always lights a fire within you—a passion to DO, to RISK, to OBEY, to FOLLOW—not for ego, not for self, but from a pure heart of PASSION for GOD!
2. Caleb’s Passion Compelled Him Toward God-Centered Vision—he wanted his inheritance, not for self but for those he loved. He didn’t let physical limitations quench his vision. He still believed the promises of God through all the years of set backs and patience.
What vision is compelling you forward in life? Is it sustainable? Is it eternal? Is it self-centered of God-centered in its orientation? There are two types of vision—unsustainable, temporal, cheap vision and eternal, supernatural, God-orientated vision.
3. Caleb’s Passion Compelled Him Toward Impossibilities—Caleb didn’t run from impossibilities. He leaned into them! He bought a T-shirt that said, “BRING IT!”
God’s call always leads to oversized challenges. If you’re up against something bigger than you, you have ventured into God’s territory. Good job!
You cannot desire a comfort zone and a compelling call at the same time. The two are mutually incompatible. A life of providential calling is also a life of impossible challenges. Get used to it.
Simply put, NEEDING God to come through is a prelude to SEEING Him come through. When you can finally RELAX in the face of NEED, you will ultimately REJOICE in the face of PROVISION.
4. Caleb’s Passion Compelled Him Toward Risk—he didn’t calculate risk or cost. He seized upon God’s will with abandon. Maybe we could say he calculated the cost of lethargy to be greater than the cost of defeat. The fact that this whole endeavor was God-orientated gave Caleb a confidence and courage willing to take risk.
I can only imagine his more sane friends and family encouraging him to rethink it, trying to settle him down, put him back in his adjustable bed, encouraging him to send others to do the work.
Caleb’s response was simply, “Shut up, give me my teeth, and get out of my way!”
God oriented passion cannot be complacent or talked down. It is restless until it stands at the precipice of God-ordained “risk.” A God-given passion will compel you to take, what appears to be unreasonable risk. It will call you forward from your comfort zone—to face down your fear and confront that which would otherwise paralyze you.
5. Caleb’s Passion Compelled Him Toward Action—he stepped out, pursued, drove out the giants. All of this when he should have been golfing, watching FOX News, complaining about politics, and enjoying his retirement years.
Passion will always move you to action. You may pray a while, you may wait for clarity, you may seek the Lord for a season, but eventually, through all of the praying and seeking, God will lead you to edge of a cliff and say “JUMP.”
If you’re like me, at that point you will stand still and keep praying for God to build a bridge. You will remain hesitant, fearful, anxious, and restless—expecting God to show you the net, reveal the path, or otherwise give a clear solution. All the while, He’s not leading you any further, He’s simply saying, “Jump!”
You’re saying, “I’m waiting on the Lord…” He’s saying, “I’m waiting on you.”
I’m not talking about impetuousness, impatience, or foolishness—though to the outside observer, it may appear as such. I’m talking about God giving you a clear direction, and you hesitating because you don’t see a clear path. As long as you stand still, the path will remain foggy. Once you step into the fog and start moving forward, clarity will begin to take shape, God will lift the fog just ahead of you. But it all hinges on your action.
We like to dip our toe into the shallow end—to move six inches forward. In so doing, we think we’ve expressed great faith. But in reality, our step cost us nothing, risked nothing, accomplished nothing. There was no faith involved in that step.
God’s call will lead you to take an unrecoverable step—an irreversible step. He asks you to take real risk—significant risk. In other words, “If God doesn’t come through, I’m toast.” (Sort of like some guys I know of who ended up in a fiery furnace.) We like to take risk that feels risky, but isn’t. If God doesn’t come through, we will still be ok.
What are you most afraid of doing? Most likely that is the thing God is asking you to do. Hesitation never wrought salvation. Pause never fulfilled passion. Where fear hesitates, courage initiates; while fear calculates, courage conquers.
6. Caleb’s Passion Compelled Him Toward Care—What Caleb does in this story regarding his daughter really throws the 21st century, post-modern reader. He sends his guys into battle against a second city (Debir) and says, “Whoever takes that city can marry my daughter.” And the way it plays out, his little brother Othniel (the first judge of Israel, Judges 3) wins the battle and the girl! You read that right. It’s sort of like, “Sweetheart, Uncle Othniel is your new husband!”
Sounds bizarre to us, but in actually Caleb did an incredibly noble and caring thing. At 85, he has an unmarried daughter. He wants her to be cared for, provided for, protected, and loved. He wants the best for her. And so, he determines to identify the man of faith, fight, and fervent love.
Achsah, Caleb’s daughter would have been like any other woman at heart. She would want a man who wanted her. She would hope for a man who loved her enough to fight for her, to protect her, to go to battle to secure her future. She would want a man full of faith, like her father, and man who shared the same passion and vision. She would want a guy who was willing to risk everything for her love!
Pretty cool how Othniel stepped up and won her heart! Like Caleb, Othniel was a good guy. And Caleb’s way of finding a husband for his daughter, while unconventional to our way of thinking, was actually incredibly noble, loving, protective, and selfless. And in the end, Achsah was delighted to go to her new husband, and Caleb was incredibly generous with his daughter as she started her new family. Very cool story.
The point—Caleb’s conquering was not for himself—it was for others! It was for those he loved! It was for those He left behind at the end of his life. Likewise, your God-orientated passion is always going to be focused on the care of others—those you love, those you serve, those you influence. It’s really not about me—it’s about the well-being, the provision, the care and protection of those God has given me to love.
It’s a GREAT thing to be passionate about someone else’s future!
So there you have six lessons from Caleb’s passion in action. His story sure challenges me. I hope it challenges you too.
For what are you PASSIONATE today? Is it God and His call? Is it about those you serve and love?
Ask God for a heart full of Caleb-sized passion!