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I can’t help but laugh when I think of the story I heard long ago about the young preacher’s visit with an elderly widow who, upset about losing her dentures, needed to be consoled.
The preacher sat on the sofa and nibbled from a dish of peanuts on the end table while he tried to cheer her with the latest news about her church friends. Before long he realized he had made a real pig of himself and apologized to the woman for having eaten every last one of her peanuts.
She responded: “It’s OK honey. I had already sucked the chocolate off of ‘em.” You know, many people approach life the way the woman in that story approaches a package of chocolate-covered peanuts. They try to avoid the hard parts.
We can learn much from a great hero of the Old Testament named Caleb. He was a godly man who thrived on challenge. He also was a man’s man who refused to duck, dodge, flinch or back up. When the Israelites entered the Promised Land and began to divvy up the property, Caleb, a key leader, could have had any tract he wanted in a country so desirable that it was described as flowing with milk and honey.
But Caleb looked past the fertile flatlands perfect for growing crops. He ignored the expansive vineyards and olive groves. He cast his gaze upon a steep, rugged mountain occupied by enemy warriors so fearsome they’d have made Chuck Norris seem sissy.
Caleb stood before Joshua, the leader of Israel, and made his request: “Give me this mountain.”
I can imagine a determined Caleb standing there with a glint in his eye and fire in his belly, hungry for another challenge.
What was the secret to Caleb’s can-do attitude? The Bible tells us he wholly trusted God, and that allowed him to press ahead with an assurance that’s unknown to most people in the world.
The key is in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
Roger Alford, a former news correspondent, is pastor of Long Ridge Baptist Church in Owenton and communications director for the Kentucky Baptist Convention.