Thursday, April 15, 2010

Caleb's scars

“What??!” Salman gasped in amazement.

Caleb stopped in his tracks, wondering what Salman had seen. And then it clicked. The ghastly scars from Egyptian lashes on his back were completely exposed. Caleb turned around and saw Salman standing on the river bank completely horrified.

“What are you looking at?” asked Caleb.

“Why didn't Joshua come with us?”

Caleb shook his head in frustration. “Why are you asking me now? You know he wanted to, but it was too risky to leave the tribes to themselves.”

“And He never talks about the first time you saw Canaan.” Salman continued.

“You wait until I’m knee deep in the Jordan river before you ask me this?” yelled Caleb. “Son, you're opening an old wound.”

“I think I need to know,” Salman replied.

Caleb threw his arms up in the air with frustration. “You already know about the spies Moses sent! We weren’t much older than you. The others turned out to be cowards. They saw Jericho’s walls and wanted to go back to Egypt. Fools, as if slavery was the answer!”

“Why didn’t Moses stop them?” Salman asked.

“He tried. They convinced the whole camp to rebel. Your parents didn’t tell you? I’m not surprised. They took up stones against us. Sure, they repented later – but it was too late. It broke Joshua's heart. He's never been the same.”

“Why doesn’t anyone talk about this?”

“I suppose it brings up too much pain.”

“What about you?” asked Salman.

“Me? The only difference between you and me is forty years, and from where I'm standing that's not much.”

“Isn't it more like fifty?” ask Salman, “not meaning to sound rude.”

“Alright. Fifty three. I'm not one to grow old graciously.”

“I can only hope to have half your courage when I'm your age,” replied Salman.

“Well it's not doing much good now,” said Caleb as he stumbled to inch his way further into the river.

Salman looked across and saw Phinehas had reached the other side. He was waving Caleb to hurry up.

“Stay here with the horses. I'll go in your place,” Salman blurted out.

Caleb hesitated, facing his limitations was never easy. “I'm sorry, I've let you down. Too old and slow, that's my problem.” Caleb passed his satchel to Salman and took his place on the shore.

“Nonsense. The water is too deep, that's all,” replied Salman, side-stepping Caleb's bruised pride. Wading into waist depth, Salman turned around hesitantly.

“Pray for us. Please.”

“I have,” Caleb answered, “all my life.”

Salman could have sworn he saw tears swell up in Caleb's eyes, but he would never dare tell anyone. Besides, he had to deal with his own as he swam to the other side of the Jordan.
Leaving Caleb behind was a tough call. Neither Phinehas or Salman had travelled this far and Caleb's experience would be sorely missed.

Salman wondered if something went wrong, or a quick decision had to be made, who would make that call? Both Phinehas and Caleb were stubborn, but at least Caleb had the wisdom of years.

By God's grace and the prayers of Caleb, he knew they would stay safe.

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