July 5, 2022
When we went beach camping as kids, I thought living in a tent was the ultimate adventure.
Sand on the canvas floor? Who cares? Mosquitoes? Just get out the mosquito netting. Rain? Break out the tarps and pull down the canvas flaps. Dirt? Well my goodness, a little dirt never hurt anybody.
I thought living in tent was great fun. I could have done it all summer.
Now, decades later, it’s a different story. Ken and I still enjoy camping, but I can only take it for so long. For some reason, tent camping seems to get a little more strenuous with each passing year. Sand, mosquitoes, dirt, rain? You can have it I say to myself after four or five days.
Maybe that’s why the apostle Paul (himself a part-time tentmaker), likened living in these bodies of ours to living in a tent.
A tent is only temporary. We can only take it for so long. And with each passing year, we find living in these bodies of ours more strenuous than the year before.
Aren’t you glad we won’t always be “groaning and burdened” with these patchwork tents of ours, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5?
When I think along these lines, Steve Coyle’s story comes to mind. Fit and strong, Steve swam for an hour each morning. One day a diving accident badly bruised his spinal column. He recovered from that mishap, but just three months later had another accident which left him with quadriplegia. Even so, Steve never complained about his disability. He always managed to work in some words of praise to the Lord in all his conversation.
I wish the story got better from there, but the truth is, Steve then developed cancer. He suffered greatly, and after losing over eighty pounds, went to be with the Lord. How he must have grown weary of his tent!
Shortly before he died, Steve wanted to record some of his thoughts in verse. He entrusted these lines to a nurse friend.
When I looked upon the days gone past,
I’d thought this tent was built to last.
For I’d stood it on some rocky ground
where stormy winds couldn’t beat it down.
And with my pride and my own hand,
I put my tent on shifting sand
where pegs pulled loose and my tent did shake,
but I was young and I could take
the unstable world that I was in
I’d just up and move again.
So for many years I went this route,
shifting this old tent about.
Till one cold day when my mind grew clear,
this tent had an end and it might be near.
So with much fear (such a heavy load)
I looked for the One who made this abode.
Yes, the Tentmaker, He’d surely know
where one such rotting tent should go
to have this canvas revitalized,
to have these poles and pegs re-sized.
I went to him on bended knees
begging him, “Oh tentmaker please!
Restore this tent I thought would last,
this canvas house that went so fast.”
He looked at me through loving eyes
and merely pointed to the skies.
“Please don’t grieve over some old tent,
old canvas walls that have been spent.
For this mansion that’s been built by me
will last you for eternity.”
With that assurance, Steve Coyle gladly broke camp and moved on.
For instance, we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we’ll never have to relocate our “tents” again.
2 Corinthians 5:1-3, The Message
Taking down a tent after a week of camping is a prospect as happy as setting it up at the beginning of the week. The adventure may have been fun, but a hot shower awaits! And a real bed with clean sheets and all the comforts of home. Take some time to ponder the comforts of your eternal home—waiting for you as soon as you set aside this temporary tent.
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