I recently began another journey through the Scriptures, which offered a fresh look at the story of Caleb. As a young man, he was one of the 12 Israelites sent to spy out Canaan prior to the Israelites’ attack. He was one of two who returned with a positive report and faith that God would lead them. The other 10 spies swayed the crowd with fear-filled tales. As a result, that entire generation passed away in the wilderness before their children, together with Caleb, successfully entered Canaan.
Over the years, I have heard or seen examples of people singing the “wanna go back to Egypt” song. There are times when I have joined them. That song is sung by people when they cannot envision how life could be any better than the past. At its worst, singing that song can drown out those with a faithful, hopeful view of the future.
What is left is a group without a vision for the future, going through the motions of life, and hoping their church can hold on until they pass away and someone after them will be left to turn out the lights.
However, there are also many Calebs in this world, people who exhibit a strong faith, standing up to the naysayers and declaring a future for the people who trust in God. We routinely meet with people who, in their later years, continue to see God at work and want to be part of the action.
As a Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC) stewardship consultant, I am impacted by grandparents with limited incomes who earn extra money to share with the church and with their family while they are still alive to see their generosity in action. I see retired individuals volunteering in their church or community, knowing the younger families are too stretched to be able offer their time. I see others well into their senior years providing wise leadership to churches and organizations, and still others mentoring willing younger leaders in new roles.
The secret to success for many of these Calebs is their willingness to step outside their comfort zone, facing down their fears and providing a path for the generations to come. These modern-day Calebs are generous with their time, talents and financial resources.
Thank you to each Caleb out there who has lived a life of faith and served as a reminder that God is in control. You inspire us to also act in faith, sharing our resources to help establish the kingdom.
Harold Penner is a stewardship consultant in the Winnipeg office of Mennonite Foundation of Canada. For more information on impulsive generosity, stewardship education, and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest MFC office or visit MennoFoundation.ca.
--Posted May 21, 2014