My boys love the outdoors – hunting and fishing and playing sports. And, they love to camp. A few years ago, Tammy’s parents bought both boys tents for their birthday. Shortly after Wil received his tent, he and I took off with a group of Cub Scouts for a weekend of camping. We arrived early and picked out the “perfect” spot for our tent, but that’s when the problems started – I had to set up the tent.
I’m not very “mechanically inclined,” you see, and setting up the tent created no small problem. Sure, I read the directions, but the poles just didn’t want to go where they were supposed to go. The campsite was full, and Justin wasn’t about to ask for help. Justin has a doctorate, you see (so do several of the other fathers in that group), and I should know how to put together a tent. After some sweat and work, I finally got the tent together.
I loved that weekend with Wil; we needed it so desperately. I had just learned I was being let go from Heritage Christian University because of a lack of funding, and our lives were in a state of turmoil. Wil and I got to spend a weekend in beautiful North Alabama with some dear friends and fellow Christians.
But, as much as I loved that weekend with my boy, I was thankful to get home and sleep in my own bed. Sleeping in a tent is just not very comfortable. Tents weren’t made for permanent dwellings; they’re simply a temporary place to stay.
Scripture understands the temporary nature of a tent. “By faith [Abraham] went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10); the Father of the Faithful lived in a tent while he waited for his permanent dwelling, “the city . . . whose designer and builder is God.” The tabernacle (a tent) was a temporary dwelling for God until the permanent temple could be erected. Jesus lived in a tent: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The Greek for “dwelt” is “to pitch a tent;” Jesus’ dwelling in the flesh with man is seen as a temporary, not a permanent, event.
You and I live in a tent: “We know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (2 Corinthians 5:1). In contrast to the eternal home made by God, we now live in tents. The flesh our souls inhabits is simply a temporary, not permanent, dwelling.
Our permanent dwelling is still to come. Because we live in a temporary dwelling:
- My pain and suffering are temporary.
- Wednesday evening Bible study is far more important than watching TV.
- My problems won’t last forever.
- I need to pursue the holiness which will allow me to see the Lord.
- My possessions won’t go with me.
- Pursuing my goals, ambitions, and aspirations isn’t nearly as important as pursuing God.
- My children need to know more about heaven than mathematics.
- Praying to God is the most important conversation I could ever have.
- Time spent with my brothers and sisters in Christ prepares me to live with them forever.
- My neighbors need to hear me discuss my Lord more than my favorite sports team.
One day I’ll be done with this tent in which I live and take up a permanent dwelling in the city of God. What a day that will be!!
Until Monday, be blessed.