Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Loving Caleb

I'm especially loving little Caleb this week! Two fun experiences with other people with the name Caleb have given great hope for who this young man will one day grow up to be.

In Seminary, we were studying in the book of Numbers this week. And actually, President Kimball (such a sweet and tender prophet himself) tells the story so well...

"Give Me This Mountain", Ensign, November 1979
"I should like to refer to the great story of the exodus of the children of Israel from Egypt to the promised land. In that story there is an account of one special man that moves and motivates and inspires me. His name was Caleb.

Shortly after Moses led Israel out of bondage from Egypt, he sent twelve men to search out the promised land and to bring back word about living conditions there. Caleb and Joshua were among the group. After spending forty days on their mission, the twelve men returned. They brought back figs and pomegranates and a cluster of grapes so large it took two men to carry it between them on a pole.

The majority of the search party gave a very discouraging report on the promised land and its inhabitants. Although they found a land that was beautiful and desirable and flowing with milk and honey, they also found that the cities were walled and formidable and that the people, the “sons of Anak,” looked like giants. The Israelite scouts said that they felt like grasshoppers in comparison. Caleb, however, saw things a little differently, with what the Lord called “another spirit,” and his account of the journey and their challenges was quite different. He said, “Let us go up at once, and possess [their land]; for we are well able to overcome it” (Num. 13:30).

Joshua and Caleb were men of great faith, and they joined in urging that the Israelites go immediately, to the promised land, saying:

“If the Lord delights in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.

“Only rebel not ye against the Lord, neither fear ye the people of the land; for … the Lord is with us: fear them not” (Num. 14:8–9).

But the faint-hearted Israelites, remembering the security of their Egyptian slavery and lacking faith in God, rejected Caleb and Joshua and sought even to stone them to death.

Because of their lack of faith, the children of Israel were required to spend the next forty years wandering about and eating the dust of the desert, when they might have feasted on milk and honey.

The Lord decreed that before Israel could enter the land of Canaan, all of the faithless generation who had been freed from bondage must pass away—all go into eternity—all except Joshua and Caleb. For their faith, they were promised that they and their children would live to inhabit the promised land.

Forty-five years after the twelve men returned from their exploration of the land of promise, when the new generation of Israel, under the leadership of Joshua, was completing its conquest of Canaan, Caleb spoke to Joshua:

“Forty years old was I when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me … to espy out the land; and I brought him word again as it was in mine heart.

“Nevertheless my brethren that went up with me made the heart of the people melt: but I wholly followed the Lord my God.

“And now, behold, the Lord hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old.

“As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me [at least in the spirit of the gospel and its call and needs]: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, … both to go out, and to come in” (Josh. 14:7–8, 10–11).

From Caleb’s example we learn very important lessons. Just as Caleb had to struggle and remain true and faithful to gain his inheritance, so we must remember that, while the Lord has promised us a place in his kingdom, we must ever strive constantly and faithfully so as to be worthy to receive the reward.

Caleb concluded his moving declaration with a request and a challenge with which my heart finds full sympathy. The Anakims, the giants, were still inhabiting the promised land, and they had to be overcome. Said Caleb, now at 85 years, “Give me this mountain” (Josh. 14:12).

This is my feeling for the work at this moment. There are great challenges ahead of us, giant opportunities to be met. I welcome that exciting prospect and feel to say to the Lord, humbly, “Give me this mountain,” give me these challenges. "

So loved and appreciated President Kimball's humility, and am so grateful to have a better understanding of who Caleb was and what faith he had. So grateful that he was eventually allowed to enter the Promised Land, among the very few to have actually started AND finished the journey!

The second "Caleb" experience occured this past Fast and Testimony Meeting in our ward in Katy. Towards the end of the meeting, a young man named Caleb Gardner stood up...he is maybe 9 or 10. He mentioned how his sister had previously shared her testimony and how he sat there pondering to himself why she would want to do that so often. He came to the conclusion that somehow it must make her happy, so he thought that he would try it to see if it worked, so he approached the pulpit, relaying to us the thoughts that had gone through his mind. And then with tears in his eyes, and a suddenly remarkably quiet congregation listening, he expressed his love for family, the Savior, the gospel, and the joy that it all brought to him. It was the sweetest moment! Brought peace to my soul. The Church will be in good hands in the future with men like Caleb Gardner and Caleb Brewer...I just know it!

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