In the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona, Spain, the marathon followed the coast road for most of the time, and it was billed as the flattest Olympic marathon in history. However, the course changed in the last three miles. It was there that runners began the steep, winding climb up Montjuic. Upon reaching the top after this grueling climb, they could almost see the finish line. It was easy from then on.
It was within this framework the television announcers made reference to Randy Travis’ song, “The Heart to Climb the Mountain.”
They showed a video clip of Randy playing his guitar and singing, “There’s a spirit only found inside a winner, / in those who never lose the will to try. / A strength we all can share if we only realize / you gotta have the heart to climb the mountain / if you wanna see the other side.”
A marathon is 26 miles, 385 yards. After running about 23 miles in a relatively flat setting, what would it be like to see a mountain in front of you knowing you had to run up it in order to finish the race and receive the prize? That’s tough! The runners did have to have heart!
Caleb was a man who had heart; he had an unquenchable faith in Jehovah God; he was a man who had a goal; he was a man who kept his focus for 45 years in order to achieve that goal (which was really God’s plan for his people).
When he was about 40 years old, he and 11 others were sent on a special mission to see what land was like in another country – a land God had given to them but they had not yet possessed.
When they returned, they reported on the bountiful nature of crops that were growing in the land. However, they also reported that the cities were well fortified, and the people were like giants.
You know the story. Moses, by the authority of Jehovah God, had sent the 12 out. It is in the Bible in Numbers chapter 13.
When the vote was taken, 10 of the group said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are.” But there were two people, Joshua and Caleb, who said they should go and conquer the land.
Why did these two say, “Let’s go!” when all the others were saying, “Don’t go”? Because they had heart! Their heart was a heart of faith in God.
The majority won. They didn’t go. Their faith was not in God. As a result, they continued to live and wander in “no man’s land” until all the unbelieving adults had died.
Then there were two.
The story continued in Joshua 14. Forty-five years have passed. Caleb is 85 years old, and he still has heart!
Caleb said, “I was 40 years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land … I wholly followed the Lord my God … I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day” (Joshua 14:7-12a).
Look at the heart of Caleb!
Caleb had the heart of a believer. He believed they could take the land because God had promised it to them. Speaking about Caleb, God said, “But 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” (Numbers 14:24).
Caleb had the heart of integrity. Forty-five years later, he was still able to say, “I wholly followed the Lord my God.”
Caleb had the heart of a dreamer. For 45 years, Caleb had gone through adversity, suffering and wandering in the wilderness – not because of his disobedience – but because of the disobedience of others. However, he remembered the promise God had made; he believed God would keep his promise; and he kept looking forward to the day when they would conquer the land.
Caleb had the heart of a fighter. When time came to enter the land, he said, “… Give me this hill country … and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said” (Joshua 14:12).
Randy Travis could have been thinking about Caleb when he sang his song. Could he sing it thinking about you and me? Do we have heart?
Kenneth Mills is a deacon and former preacher.