Taking it up a notch

journeyI was convicted today.

This morning’s sermon by Pastor Jason Perry was called “Caleb: Faith for a Lifetime.” Pastor Perry led us through a chapter from the book of Joshua in which Caleb, an 85-year-old man by this time, is recounting his experiences of taking God at His word. Caleb and Joshua were 2 of 12 scouts the Israelites sent into Canaan after God promised Israel this land was for them. Ten of the scouts brought back reports of giant people and large armies inhabiting the land. Joshua and Caleb acknowledged the challenge but were confident in their God. “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it,” was Caleb’s report (Numbers 13:30, NIV).

Well, Joshua and Caleb were outnumbered, and the Israelites were punished for their lack of faith. They were banished to the desert for 40 years of wandering—until that whole generation of the doubtful died off. Their children would enter the promised land that they themselves had been afraid to accept.

85 years old and still ready for battle

Joshua and Caleb would be the only members of their generation to step foot on Canaanite soil. Because of their faith. In fact, listen to Caleb talking to the younger generation of Israelites:

“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)

Do you love that? Caleb’s faith had only grown stronger during 40 years of desert waiting! He was just as confident, just as whole-hearted, just as eager to slay giants and serve God as he had ever been. Wow.

Advice for all ages

Pastor Perry’s advice to the young people of our congregation was to make God a habit now, by developing a discipline of talking and listening to Him every day through prayer and Bible reading.

His advice to the “seasoned saints” was to finish well, to never accept retirement, to find new ways to serve, to allow age to take a physical toll but never a spiritual toll.

For people in my age group—between youth and retirement—he suggested, “Take it up a notch.”

Take it up a notch?

What does that mean? For me it means I want to be more strategic about how I spend my time. I can’t pack any more into my days—I’m already overwhelmed! But “overwhelmed” is no way to go through life. So taking it up a notch means investing time in the right things.

  • It means I’ll be more careful about the clients I accept, the projects I agree to, the committees I join.
  • It means I’ll eliminate some of the blogs and e-newsletters I subscribe to, so I’ll still have time and energy to read the Bible and really think about what it says.
  • It means I won’t neglect rest, and healthy meals, and outdoor activities—because I want to be able to say when I’m 85, “I’m just as strong, just as vigorous to go out to battle, as I was 40 years ago!”

Will I keep blogging? Tweeting? Facebooking? LinkingIn? I’m not sure. I haven’t been able to discern yet whether the words I post in cyberspace ever result in the world being a better place. Am I strengthening anyone’s faith? Or my own? Sometimes you don’t know until years down the road.

Please share

I would appreciate any comments on this subject. What are the rest of you doing to make sure you spend time on only the “right” things? What kinds of disciplines have you set up? And how did you determine what is right? Did you ever eliminate something you thought was not worthwhile, and then wish later you had kept it?

If you were challenged to take your faith up a notch, what would that mean for you?


4 thoughts on “Taking it up a notch”

  1. Well, to be honest I have also been challenged with this idea: what is the next step? What does it mean to take my faith up a notch?

    No doubt it is a contraversial topic, but I have recently decided that I need to be a friend to outsiders. Okay, not such a new concept, even for me. Jesus modeled for us that he came to be a doctor to the sick, and so he spent time with those who needed him. I have spent about 5 years counseling people who have problems with drugs and alcohol… definitely in that category.

    However, life has taken me down a different path and so I find myself asking that question again. What does that mean outside the safety of the therapy room?

    Just this past Friday I stepped out on faith to try to understand what the world is like for people who are outside the faith. I caught wind of a group, the Secular Student Alliance, who was planning a trip to the Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY. SSA is a group of atheists and agnostics. So my wife and I signed up to be a part of that group… to say it briefly we got the most horrible stares and glances from people who called themselves “Christian” and who follow Jesus’ example. Wow!

    I want to be a friend of atheists. I want to be a person that can sit down with them as equals and talk about matters of faith and science. I want to be able to embrace people like Jesus would…

    That is what moving my “faith up a notch” means to me today.

    • Wow, great idea — good for you! Will you let me know how your trip with the SSA goes? What a great opportunity for learning. The better we understand people, the less arrogant and hurtful we are when we get a chance to share with them. And the same goes for them too.

      • Oh, wait a minute, I just found your blog about your experience with the SSA. I’ll subscribe, and you can keep me posted that way! Thanks Aaron.

  2. Melanie! Thank you for your warm words! I am often hesitant to share my passions with other Christians because so many times I have been put down, riciduled, and shamed for taking the position that I feel is so central to Christ’s message.

    The trip was 8/7 and I am still putting together my thoughts. I will likely be posting several times about it as I continue to process it with friends and acquaintances. I hope that my experience can be meaningful to you as well as others!

    Thanks again :)

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