First, “Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day.” Five years had now passed since the conquest had begun, and though the majority of the Promised Land had been conquered, there were still large areas that remained unconquered. So God instructed Joshua to divide up the land among the nine-and-a-half tribes, so that the men from each tribe would now conquer their own respective inheritance. This is really amazing and shows me that God’s inheritance and promise given to me is not just a free gift given to me on a silver platter, but rather it is something that I should claim by fighting for it and doing all I can to capture it. And when I think of this in terms of God’s world salvation work, I can see how God has allocated the whole world to his various churches and ministries. Each have their own unique style and unique focus that is geared to the specific calling God has given them. That is the territory and inheritance that God as given each ministry, and when all churches focus on conquering their own territory, the kingdom of God can expand and grow powerfully here on earth. As for me, God has called me to serve college campus through one to one Bible studies, and for this task he has brought me to this church. But I see that this calling that I have received from God is more than just a task to perform; it is really God’s promise, desire, blessing, and inheritance, which God wants me to have. God wants to give me all college campuses as my inheritance, but it does not mean that this promise of God is just a free gift handed to me on a silver platter. Rather it is something I must work for, fight for and take possession of. I can see that God does not want his children to be like spoiled brats that just get everything they want and later take it for granted, but he wants them to work hard for it and take possession. And at that time they can really enjoy God’s blessing and inheritance given to them. So I see that by remaining idle or passive, I can never secure what God wants to give me. So I must pick up a challenging and fighting spirit, and I see this revealed so clearly through Caleb.
When Joshua announced God’s direction to divide the land, Caleb from the tribe of Judah was the first to approach him. He, along with Joshua, was sent by Moses to spy out the Promised Land over 45 years ago. And now at the end of his life, he testified as to what kind of life he had lived saying, “I, however, followed the LORD my God wholeheartedly.” Wow! What a testimony! During Bible study and the message, these words touched my heart so much. How awesome it will be when at the age of 85 when I can look back on my life and say that I have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly. At that time, I will have no regrets about what I have done or haven’t done or how I have lived my life, because I will have the heart’s consolation that in everything I did, my whole purpose was to love God, please him and live in a way that brought glory to him. I am in my early 30 years, and when I look back on the past 12 years, there were times where I had to make certain sacrifices on my part in order to follow God. However, I can honestly say that I do not regret any of that and am really deeply satisfied and happy with the life God has led me to. There have been times when I poured out my heart and life on sheep only for them to turn around and bite me. It hurt me a lot, but I do not regret any of that because I know that I was following the Lord my God doing what he wanted me to do. And as I struggle to live my life this way for another 10 years, 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, and even 50 years, then surely as I lie on my death bed, I will not be scared or regretful, but with a free conscience I can testify confidently that I have followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly and am ready to meet him and be with him forever. Such words are indeed the words of a true victor and conqueror. But these were not just his words alone; this was also how God’s servant Moses understood Caleb. From this I can begin to understand how much of a source of encouragement and comfort Caleb was to Moses. When all the people were rebellious or lacking faith, there was always one man among 2 million people who was wholeheartedly struggling to love God and please him, and that was Caleb. Moses carried so many burdens in his heart, but every time he looked at Caleb it would bring a smile to his face and joy to his heart. And now in his opinion, Caleb was the one who had followed the Lord his God wholeheartedly. I pray that I too can be this kind of source of comfort and encouragement to God’s servants around me. Though I do not live for praise from others, to hear God’s servant say to me at the end of my life, “You are the one who has followed the Lord my God wholeheartedly,” would bring me such great great joy, knowing that others could see God’s glory revealed in and through my life. For this I pray that I may live as a reliable and trustworthy man who has loved God and followed him with all my heart. And when I do, I will receive the ultimate reward, which is God himself testifying and recognizing me as the one who has followed him wholeheartedly. Such people are so great in God’s eyes, and to hear these words would be everything to me. For this alone I am encouraged to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. I was very encouraged by Msn. Joseph Ahn’s testimony when he said, “Now the important thing is how I finish my life in God so that God’s glory can be revealed.” From this I could see that I must never dwell on what I have done or achieved, but continue to love God with single-hearted devotion. Then at the end of my life I will be so happy and overjoyed. I can really see now that those who love God this way and follow him wholeheartedly are the ones who are truly blessed and happy. During mission meeting on Sunday, Shs. Kathryn mentioned that when we compare ourselves to unbelievers, we can say that we are blessed. But even amongst Christians, there are those who are even more blessed than others, and they are the ones who have followed the Lord their God wholeheartedly. They are indeed happy people. As I thought about this, I was again reminded of Msn. Rebekah Choi. When she visited us, I was so impressed and touched by her spirit and the incredible joy and happiness she seemed to have. Years later I read her life testimony on the UBF website and in it she mentioned how she had battled cancer on several occasions, had several medical procedures, and had suffered from many other health problems. I wondered how after enduring so many painful things like that she could still be so happy and joyful. However, it is clear to me that after serving God for almost 40 years as a missionary, her conscience was free and in the midst of her suffering, she could have real joy and happiness knowing that all this time she has followed the Lord her God wholeheartedly. This is the kind of blessed person I want to be at the end of my life. Maybe I may have painful suffering or maybe I lose much for the sake of serving God, but in exchange I will be so happy and blessed. I pray that I may follow Caleb’s example and live my life with single-hearted devotion to the Lord, so that at the end my life I, God’s servants, and God himself may be able to testify that I was the one who followed him wholeheartedly.
But as if that was not amazing enough, Caleb then goes on to say in V. 11, “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.” Usually, people that age are on their last limb getting ready for their departure, but here Caleb was thinking about going to the battle and fighting. This is really awesome. Among the brothers we have joked about when we are old in our 80’s and 90’s going around campus with our wheel chairs and oxygen tanks inviting students to Bible study. This is the way God’s people should be. I see that this should always be my direction, which is to go out, fight, and engage in the battle. Maybe one day I am in charge of my own chapter or hold an influential position in the church, or maybe God blesses me in my work so that I become a very important person in my company, but despite all these things – whether it be position, title, or age – my struggle must continually be to go to campus and look for sheep. So at the age of 50 or 60, I am still actively fishing and teaching one to one. Maybe my pride is hurt when young college students reject me, but still I go out and do it all the while crying out for God’s help. I see that for many people, as they get older and have more responsibilities, they tend to lose that same passion and drive for God as they had before, but this was not the case with Caleb. He was even more zealous and vigorous to go out and fight. I pray that the older I get, my spirit may become younger and younger, so that at the age of 85 I may be able to say, “I am still as strong today I was during my college years; I’m just as vigorous, if not more, to go out to battle now as I was then.”
But also I was very amazed by Caleb’s request for Hebron. I see that even after 45 years, Caleb never lost that hope and burning passion for his inheritance, even the specific area that he wanted. He must have dreamt about it all the time for these past 45 years. Now when it came time to conquer the land, he worked really hard, and when the announcement was made that they were going to divide the land, he was the first one in line to get his piece of the pie. I see that this is how God wants his people to be. He wants them to yearn and long for their inheritance and be very proactive and take initiative in securing it. It would not be easy for Caleb especially since the Anakites were there and their cities were well fortified. However, because of his faith and the fact that he followed the Lord wholeheartedly, he saw everything differently and knew that with the Lord helping him, he would drive them out. My campus is really God’s inheritance to me, which he wants me to have. It is really a beautiful campus smack dab in the heart of Orange County, and I too want to have it, not because it is easy–in fact at times it really feels like Hebron in the south with many Anakites–but because that is where God sent me to pioneer. There have been times when I have been much discouraged by the Anakites I face in serving campus mission. It seems that the humanism, casual and relativistic attitude is so deeply fortified in students that is too difficult to penetrate their hearts with the gospel. It is so discouraging when after studying with students for so long still they don’t have a sense of problem about certain things. In those moments I feel knocked out not knowing what to do. But when I think about the way I deal with these matters it really makes me consider how I have been following God. If Caleb were in the same situation, such things would not be an issue. I see that when I follow God wholeheartedly like this, at that time my perspective changes and all Anakites with their fortified cities can be demolished. When I have this spirit, then I don’t have to be scared or intimidated by students, but can be strong and powerful knowing that God is with me and will use me to save souls and build up his kingdom. God is promising OCC as my inheritance, and now with his help, I can conquer and claim it as my own.
Second, “Go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves.” The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh had difficulty driving out the inhabitants from their land. The enemies were determined to remain there, but the sons of Joseph were not as fully determined. Instead of picking up more zeal and determination for God’s purpose, they came to Joshua and complained that they had not received enough land. It was like they got a two-bedroom house with a huge lot, but instead of working hard and extending their house with more rooms, they just asked Joshua to give them another plot of land with a 4 bedroom house. Instead of working hard to pioneer their area, they just blamed Joshua for not giving them more land. They really sounded like little spoiled brats. However, Joshua accepted their complaint, and instead of just handing it over to them, he helped them to get what they wanted by fighting for it. If they wanted more land, then sure no problem, but they were the ones who would have to pioneer it by excavating the land and clearing out the enemies there. Here I see the principle by which God operates his kingdom. Each person can have as much as they want, but they receive as much as they work or as much as they do. God wants his people to go up into the forest and pioneer it by clearing the land and turning into a beautiful city of God. This is what we are trying to do on our campuses. This is not easy though. I remember this past winter I was helping my dad chop wood. It was really hard and tiresome, so I can just imagine how difficult it would be to clear a whole forest of trees. It requires a lot of work, but God’s will is to go out and build up his kingdom there from start to finish. As I think about this, it is very exciting. At the right time we will send pioneers to San Diego, the Bay Area, Santa Barbara, Sacramento and so on to pioneer new churches that will be spiritual powerhouses for kingdom work where many people will grow to be great spiritual leaders. For this exciting vision, I pray that I may work harder and pick up more momentum so that God can use me and my family as pioneering shepherds when the time comes.
Third, “How long will you wait?” The Israelites were about ready to settle in the land; however, there were still 7 tribes that had not yet received their inheritance. At that Joshua rebuked them saying, “How long will you wait to take possession of the land?” Joshua’s rebuke to these 7 tribes really challenges me and makes me examine myself. I think about what God wants me to do with my life and the many great things he has planned for me. They are right there and he wants me to take possession of them, but if only because of some sin problem or some silly desires for other things I don’t do that and live up to my true potential, then I am really wasting my time and my life. God asks me, “How long will you wait? How long will you wait to really take possession of the campus and turn it into a city of God?” I don’t want to waste any more time but go out and do God’s work with all my heart, so that I may be able to expand his kingdom on the campus, and so that God’s vision for my life may come to fruition.
One Word: Follow the Lord my God wholeheartedly so that I may take possession of the land the Lord has promised me.