Trading a tent for a house

wordswag_1493119460527There are those who love camping. They leave their houses – compete with comfortable beds, air conditioning, and bathrooms – to live in a tent where they can experience all those wonderful things like insects, sleeping bags, and campfire meals. It remains a mystery to me why that is fun though I’m sure a few of you will write to try to explain it.  I joke that my idea of camping involves a 40 feet motorhome. For all of you who will live in tents this Summer, I say, “Enjoy!”

Bob (my father in law) moved out of his tent and into his eternal home yesterday.  Sunday evening I sat alongside the bed as he lay dying. It is brutally hard to watch those final breaths, to stand so close to the harsh, cruel reality of death. As the body struggles and that spark of “life” mysteriously leaves, the face of that person we love becomes almost unrecognizable.

Yes, once again, our family is dealing with death, but we do not grieve as those who have no hope.  Our understanding, though incomplete, is informed by the inspired Word.  St. Paul uses the tent and house metaphor to explain our dying. “For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.” (2 Corinthians 5:1, NLT)  Dad left this campground and went home, the Bible says.

My daughter texted me this morning thanking God for the hope that sustains us, wondering how those without faith endure the loss. I, too, am so grateful that I know hope that envelopes the sorrow.  The full context of Paul’s words about the Christian hope is rich with encouragement for our daily choices in life. I read this passage this morning drawing deeply on words of assurance. Share that hope as you read God’s Word to us.

“We have the same kind of faith the psalmist had when he said, “I believed in God, so I spoke.” We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. . . . Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us.

Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit. So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord.” (2 Corinthians 4:13-5:6, NLT)

Are you trying to hold onto things that are only a part of this present existence? Is your life built on the things you own, the health or beauty of your body, the work you do?  Then, you are destined for despair because eventually each of those ‘treasures’ will be taken away. We should enjoy the opportunity to have families, to build homes, to be part of the commerce of the world. Choosing a healthy lifestyle is a way to honor God and care for the body we have for our journey through time, but … without a fixed point of reference in eternity is all just futility. Solomon calls it ‘chasing the wind!’  Jesus taught us to ‘lay up treasure in Heaven’ our eternal home because what we invest there survives our last breath.  Mysterious? Sure is!  Truth? Yes, and words around which we should shape each day of this brief sojourn.

We are eventually going to fold up our tent to leave Campground Earth. On that day, I will be going home. What about you?  Jesus said “Don’t let this throw you. You trust God, don’t you? Trust me. There is plenty of room for you in my Father’s home. If that weren’t so, would I have told you that I’m on my way to get a room ready for you? And if I’m on my way to get your room ready, I’ll come back and get you so you can live where I live.” (John 14:1-3, The Message)  We don’t go there because we are good enough, but because His is perfect, and His grace amazing.

Have you trusted Him to forgive your sins, to restore your relationship with the Father?Are you loving Him today, doing His will?
Then, take heart and hope.

Here is a word from the Word.  Live in the promise!
Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other. But—“When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he declared us righteous and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7, NLT)

Enjoy your home, Dad. I can only imagine (and even that is limited) the delight of the Presence of God, the fullness of joy into which you emerged as you left your tent behind.

_____________

I Can Only Imagine

I can only imagine
What it will be like
When I walk by Your side
I can only imagine
What my eyes will see
When Your face is before me
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in Your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

I can only imagine
When that day comes
And I find myself standing in the Son
I can only imagine
When all I will do
Is forever forever worship You
I can only imagine
I can only imagine

Surrounded by Your glory
What will my heart feel
Will I dance for You Jesus
Or in awe of You be still
Will I stand in Your presence
Or to my knees will I fall
Will I sing hallelujah
Will I be able to speak at all
I can only imagine yeah
I can only imagine

Bart Millard© 2001, 2002 Simpleville Music (Admin. by Music Services, Inc.)

CCLI License # 810055

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