Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ah, To Die Climbing...

Why do people simply give up living life prematurely? We used to see it a lot in the recently retired, though that’s more like a generation back. Nowadays people are quite happy to plan for their retirements and ‘grey nomading’ is a popular pastime. But the fact remains, people at various certain stages of life give up trying, get dejected about what life’s thrown their way, and have spiritual problems and seasons of gloom.

I love the timeless wisdom of J. Oswald Sanders. His chapter on Spiritual Mountaineering is a great motivation for longevity of life: to be consistent in our youth; to not become frustrated in our middle life; and finally, to be triumphant in old age... ah, to be a victorious octogenarian or nonagenarian![1]

The classic truth is, of course, that we’re tempted to get bitter and twisted about all sorts of things in life--particularly over little stuff--it can appear to be a constant struggle to not give in.

All too often we see people cruise through their teens, twenties and thirties to then abruptly hit a spiritual brick wall in the forties! At once they’re fighting for their emotional lives. Whether it’s pride or they’ve not had to struggle before, or for whatever other reason, life can pretty quickly provide a rude awakening, can’t it?

We see here that middle life, particularly, can be a “long drawn out test” for the uninitiated; for we can suddenly discover the road ahead it still long and equally arduous.[2]

Biblical attention is drawn to the figure of Caleb and his austere durability. There are not many eight-five year olds today like this...

“Now then, just as the LORD promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the desert. 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. Now give me this hill country that the LORD promised me that day. You yourself heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the LORD helping me, I will drive them out just as he said” –Joshua 14:10-12 (NIV).
Caleb is not taking “no” for an answer. He’s going to die climbing. Would we be a ‘giant’ who might laugh at the efforts of others, or life in general, to sway us off the path God has destined for us? And we all know elderly people who’re like this, and they’re inspirations to us.

We can defy our age physically if we’re ever obedient spiritually--this is Sander’s alignment with the great Caleb--he was a champion of faithful obedience to the LORD. And that is our key too. Obedience at all costs... patience... surrender... costly grace, yes, even aggressive forgiveness!

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.
[1] J. Oswald Sanders, Problems of Christian Discipleship (London, England: China Inland Mission/Lutherworth Press, 1958), pp. 136-41.
[2] Sanders, Ibid, p. 138.

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