FRONT PORCH GOSPEL: Carry the ‘Can’ spirit with you
Welcome, friends, to the “front porch.”
Often as we look at a new year looming just ahead, I’ll be compelled to remind you and me of an old story that has long captured my admiration. But I thought that – with the year almost halfway over – we might need to be reminded of the type of spirit we need to re-summon for all the challenges we will face in the summer months ahead. That spirit can hardly be found in a greater biblical character than a powerful man named Caleb.
When you sit and talk about Caleb, we also have to talk about those unbelievable unbelieving Israelites with whom Caleb has to deal. I say “unbelievable” because of how absolutely faithless they prove to be, when they just as well could have been faithful. Their pitiful, flailing faithlessness is nothing short of unbelievable. I don’t know a better word for it.
But Caleb stands out as a ray of light amidst that dark generation. He is one of the world’s great “Can” men. We read of our share of “Cannot” men in the Bible – We see many of those kinds of folks around us every day – but to find a “Can-man” such as Caleb is a rarity. I’m not sure I’ve ever encountered a more positive, determined, faithful, encouraging, purpose-driven, God-fearing man than Caleb. That description may sound extraordinary, but this Caleb is an extraordinary man!
When the 12 spies in Moses' day go over to spy out the land of Canaan and come back with a glowing report, you would think that such an occasion would end in an immediate God-driven assault on their enemies, resulting in a resounding victory and a return home to the Promised Land.
You would think. But we know things don't always go the way we think they should. This Israelite generation looks at the giants over in Canaan, then looks at how puny they are in comparison, and says, “Why, we’re nothing but grasshoppers,” and the whole generation tucks its tail and runs (Numbers 13:33).
This scared, “let’s just give up” attitude infuriates Caleb, the great man of faith; and it perplexes the great warrior Joshua standing alongside of him, too. They had never seen such faithlessness just come out of the woodwork unimpeded the way it does that day.
Oh, Caleb stands up and delivers one of the greatest “halftime” speeches you’ve ever heard, the theme being, “Listen, fellas, we can do this. We can win this battle! Don’t you know that God is on our side? Don’t you know that we cannot fail with God with us!”
But halftime speeches only work if the players are willing to borrow the courage of the orator standing before them and go out on the court and lay everything they have on the line. These Israelites aren’t even going to leave the locker room to take the court for the second half.
As a result, our two heroes must endure four grueling decades longing for the Promised Land. But they never give up, through it all. Caleb will be 85 years old before he ever sees the Promised Land, and his partner-in-faith Joshua is close to the same. But the battle, as we know, does not go always to the swift. It is he who is determined who wins the prize, and there are no men in the Bible more determined. After nearly half a century, they eventually will cross over the Jordan River into Canaan.
So, today – determine to take on all the challenges of the summer of 2019 with Caleb’s vibrant spirit burning deep in your heart.
And when someone comes along – and they will – and says, “Nah, we can’t do that. It just won’t work.” You will be well-prepared to say, “Oh, no sir, that’s where you’re wrong. You forget I’ve got the Lord fighting right along beside me.”
Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call or text 972-824-5197.