E-pistle August 6

To Follow Him Fully
 
Becky and I became grandparents on Tuesday, August 3. Caleb Warren Teague arrived a little early, but at 6 pounds 6 ounces, he is healthy, at home and doing well. As are his parents, Christopher and Katie.

Caleb’s name is no accident.  His middle name is the same as his father’s middle name – Becky’s father’s first name. Generation to generation. 
 
Caleb’s first name is taken from the Exodus; Caleb son of Jephunneh, one of twelve spies – he of Judah – sent by Moses to take measure of the Promised Land. You may remember the story. The spies make their way successfully into Canaan and back. For forty days they survey the land God had promised them. They came back and told Moses that, indeed, it was a land flowing with milk and honey.
 
The majority report, though, was discouraging: "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are." So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, "The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them."
 
Caleb, on behalf of himself and Joshua, issued the minority report: “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
 
The people believed what those in the majority had said, and in the end, only Joshua and Caleb, of all those who first left Egypt, were permitted to enter the Promised Land. 
 
The story may be found in Numbers 13.
 
In Numbers 14, the Lord speaks to Moses and says, “…my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.”
 
Christopher used this verse in announcing the birth of his son Caleb.
 
Becky will leave for a grandmotherly visit and care giving time with Christopher, Katie and Caleb on Sunday. I will follow at the end of the week for a grandfatherly time to hold the baby and soak in the goodness of it all – and then get out of the way. We have been surprised how strong is the desire to see and hold this little one. We can hardly wait!
 
Of course we offer prayers of great thanksgiving and joy, prayers for the health of mother and child. But I also am praying that Caleb will grow into one who “has a different spirit,” who follows God fully. It will not be easy.
 
Our world is occupied by strong and frightful forces that oppose the things of God. Secularism and oppression. Spiritualism and injustice. Pluralism and immorality. They appear gigantic and nearly impossible to overcome. The world in which Caleb will grow up seems so scary in so many ways. I fear for him. 
 
Christopher and Katie have named their son Caleb, after the one who had a different spirit and who followed God fully. He was the one who said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
 
In this week of his birth, then, I am praying that Caleb will be a man like his namesake, that he will be filled with God’s Holy Spirit and follow him fully. I am praying, in the words  of the old hymn, “early let him seek Thy favor, early let him do Thy will.”
 
In his commentary of Psalm 127, John Calvin reminds us that children are a gift from God and “that those become fathers to whom God vouchsafes that honor.” What joy to know that God has vouchsafed now to my son the honor of being a father. (And, to be sure, the honor of being a mother to Katie.)
 
And he has vouchsafed to Becky and to me the honor of being grandparents. Thanks be to God!