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” (Joshua 14:10-11 NIV).
In England, a constant reminder plays through the broadcast system in the subway station. Hundreds of times daily, a voice echoes through the train station reminding travelers to “mind the gap.” The warning points to the danger awaiting the unsuspecting passenger between the train and the platform. If a person doesn’t mind the gap, they could fall onto the tracks and perish. Not minding the gap could equate to death.
When Caleb was forty years old, Moses sent him from Kadesh Barnea to explore the land of Canaan, along with one leader from each of the Israelite tribes. Their assignment was: “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the land’s fruit” (Numbers 13:17-20 NIV).
Go. See. Bring.
Except for Caleb and Joshua, the leaders reported their interpretation of what they saw, spreading fear among the people: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large… We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than us” (Numbers 13:27-28 & 31 NIV).
Since Caleb stood resolute in his faith that God would deliver his people as he did before, he was promised an inheritance, along with his children.
There was a significant gap between when the promise was spoken and when the contract was actualized. A forty-five-year gap, to be exact. At age eighty-five, Caleb received the land of Hebron, at rest from war.
Imagine receiving a promise forty-five years after the fact.
What do you think your response would be?
Would the timing matter to you?
Caleb responded, “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has left me alive for forty-five years since he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. 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” (Joshua 14:10-11NIV).
When I initially read Caleb’s response, it was tough for me to relate to his level of enthusiasm. I couldn’t fathom waiting 40+ years for a promise. I had to reread these scriptures, numerous times to grasp how significant this moment was for Caleb.
The forty-five-year gap between the time the promise was spoken to and when Caleb received it was not time wasted or space. It was a gap full of moments, trials, and triumphs that truly built Caleb’s faith and gave him the wisdom to maintain an inheritance for himself and his children.
Caleb’s eighty-five-year-old body and mind still possessed the strength and vigor he had at age forty-five. The time had progressed, but his enthusiasm, power, and stamina persisted.
Caleb’s response and disposition were counter-cultural.
Society has coined the phrase, enjoy life while you are young, because culture is confined by time. Culture sees time as a constraint, but God defies time, as he is the creator of it.
Time builds character. Time builds our faith. It produces perseverance and patience.
The space between the time we hear a promise and the time we receive it is still valuable.
God redeems the time.
Like the voice in a British transit system, God reminds us in His word to “mind the gap” in our lives, but for different reasons than a conductor has in mind. God wants us to use the gaps in our lives to build our faith and trust in His promises. However, as the conductor warns us of the imminent dangers if we miss our footing, so does God. If we don’t pay attention to the space between the time we hear a promise and the time we receive it, we will lose power, character, and faith. But if we heed God’s voice, we reap many benefits here on earth, and best of all, we will have eternal life!
Prayer: Thank you, God, for your promises. Thank you for using the time between the promises to build faith, perseverance, and patience. Give me a heart like Caleb’s that waits happily in expectation. Amen.
Your Turn: Imagine receiving a promise years after the fact. What does think your response would be?