Intergenerational Community

I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart. So Moses swore on that day saying, ‘ Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’ And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the Lord spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and coming in. Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the Lord spoke in that day
Joshua 14:7;9-12a, NKJV

One of the greatest hurdles often times for churches and ministries is navigating the waters of an intergenerational community. It has always been Christ’s design for the church that all ages, demographics, cultures, backgrounds share together their faith, relationships, and experience. Often we become divided over styles of music, color schemes in the decorating, and so many other non-essentials.

How do we lay aside the non-essentials and as the community of Christ unite together to enjoy God and radiate His glory? The process of aging does not eliminate our need for Christ or His community—the local church. I recently read an article on the error in using the phrase of “passing the baton.” Once a person reaches the status of “senior” (however that is determined) does not mean they can “pass the baton” on to someone younger and seemingly step out of the race. The race continues!

I have been privileged to watch and participate in intergenerational churches and watch as the various backgrounds blend together to display a great masterpiece of God. It is my resolution that I will continue to grow in grace—no matter my age.

I love the boldness and maturity that is expressed by Caleb in the division of the Promise Land. Maturity in God produces confidence in God. Here are some observations from this passage of Scripture regarding maturing in God:

Passion for God + Longevity with God = Determined Confidence

A life lived with God is a life full of experience in God. There are many claimed Christians who are not living with God, but simply do acts of service to God or carry a title about God. Caleb walked with God. For forty-five years he wandered the wilderness, knowing what God had promised. For forty-five years he watched his friends and neighbors die. What began as a young man’s passionate declaration: “We are able to overcome it!” (Numbers 13:30), combined with a persistent journey with God through all the obstacles and opportunities became in Caleb a determined confidence: “Give me this mountain which the Lord spoke in that day.”

This confidence was not born of self. Self had been annihilated along the journey through the wilderness. Caleb’s confidence was born from a word, spoken by God through a godly leader. Caleb’s confidence was matured forty-five years through test and trial as he watched God show up again and again. He ate of the manna. He saw the miracles in the wilderness. He did not allow himself to grow weary, but he became more determined in the goodness of God.

Weariness is what you make it

Life throws us curve balls all of the time. I’m certain that Caleb fully expected forty-five years earlier that all of Israel would inherit the Promised Land after his spy adventure. But we know that because of the negative influence of his peers, they wandered in the wilderness. Have you ever anticipated going “right” in a decision, and for some reason you ended up “left”? Caleb did not become “rut-bound” when others did not go the way he wanted. In fact, God often uses the “left” turns in life to eliminate self, sin, or other negative influences from our lives. Who would want to spend the rest of their life with Shaphat the Negative? Who would want to live with ten people who always had a reason why not to engage in God’s plan? Caleb teaches us not to allow left turns to sidetrack us, and he also shows that we don’t become disenchanted with God’s plan because someone else doesn’t agree. Caleb makes this statement, “just as my strength was then, so now is my strength.” In other words, I haven’t lost hope. I will not live in weariness; I will be strengthened in my inner man.

A Body Fit to Fight

Will your current body endure the journey God has called you on? I believe a lot of times we allow the stress of life and circumstance dictate how we care for our bodies. I realize there are times of unexpected illness and disease. That’s not the idea here. Caleb maintained his physical strength so that he may enjoy all God had for him in this life. Will you miss opportunities because of health and nutrition decisions you are making today? Many negative food decisions and health decisions are motivated by fear, weariness, and negative influences. Caleb knew that at the end of the wilderness journey he had a home to build and a mountain to enjoy with his family. God has, in this life, great encounters with Him, ministries to enjoy, people to reach—are you limiting your enjoyment of these things because you have not been a steward of those things God has promised? You may not completely reverse diet or exercise related illness overnight. You may not establish a new habit of health and nutrition tomorrow, but take a step at a time. Caleb had to maintain his strength for forty-five years while roaming the wilderness.

Never let go of God’s Word

It was as fresh today as it was back then. The word Caleb had received forty-five years earlier was just as powerful and real on the day he looked on the mountain God had given him. The Word of God will sustain you through every season of life. It truly is the anchor of your soul. Cast your anchor upon the Word of God and no storm will change your course.

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