Are you one of the many who believe there is not a single subject today that the Bible hasn’t already addressed? Take a relatively new term like ageism, which along with racism and sexism, are three areas that spark discrimination. What does the Bible say about aging? About being in a life stage where people used to take it easy but you don’t want to kick back. If this interests you, where would you turn?
You can always look up Bible verses using the word “age”. However, a better result comes from knowing the Scriptures better, through regular Bible study over months and years. You might think of characters, rather than single verses, that illustrate the ideas you want to understand more. And that’s what led me to a figure from the Old Testament on a recent adventure.
My husband and I took a glorious bike ride in the Colorado Rockies as part of our summer travel. I was struck by our fellow cyclists on this 30-35 mile journey one morning at about 9000’. No one in the group was –let’s just say – in the beginning stages of their career. Yet we hooped and hollered our way up and down rolling hills and mountain passes like teenagers.
Somewhere between feeling the glorious air and taking in the brilliant blue sky, I had a “Caleb” moment. You probably recall. Caleb was the young spy Moses asked, along with twelve others, to check out the Promised Land to see how much resistance they’d meet when entering. He came back with an unblinkingly courageous report that their military invasion could be successful — even though ten others recoiled from the challenge.
Forty years later Caleb approached Joshua to claim the land Moses had promised him for his faithfulness.
I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. (Josh. 14:11)
In pushing back barriers of ageism – one of the most vicious forms of stereotyping today —we prove our God-given strength, just like Caleb.
As in all Bible study, I find that even a small effort to find out something about a character yields up great results for life today. In Caleb’s case, a little research revealed that the root of his name is from klb, ‘dog’, and usually conveys a sense of self-abasement. But it can also refer to a faithful watchdog and is used in certain ancient letters and hymns to express a servant’s faithfulness.
Caleb’s name–and how he saw himself in relation to it — was the key to his continuing strength and courage. He was not weak and self-effacing, but a faithful and obedient servant to God. By glimpsing this long-ago figure’s courage and fidelity, I was able to scale a mountain pass and cheer on our fellow riders doing the same – and of course, hooping!