“Now we know that if this earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, and earthly house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile, we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (II Corinthians 5:1-5)
Ah, camping out…what a delight! If you were to think back to your favorite tent camping experience what would it be? What would you list as your favorite memory? The smell of a wood fire wafting in the air… the sound of a gentle breeze blowing through the trees…the smoky taste of bacon frying in a campfire skillet… the occasionally glimpse of a deer or even a bear darting through the trees? There sure are a lot of great things about camping out! Probably why we keep coming back right?
But those of you who have ever been tent camping before – you also realize there are a lot of challenges too! And even though camping out can be loads of fun you also pretty quickly discover that tent camping is probably not something you want to do for the rest of your life. Or at least every day for the rest of your life.
You see, along with all those great moments of camping come the difficult ones too! Like the mosquitos that always manage to find their way in the tent or like that little river running through your supposedly waterproof tent or like that constant “I need a shower” kind of feeling. I much as I hate to admit it, I always thought that the best thing about tent camping was that you get to go home and sleep in your own bed! After about a week of smelly socks and eating burned hot dogs home never looked so good!
I wonder if we couldn’t supply some of that same imagery to this earthly tent that we live in! Actually, we don’t have to imagine it – God’s Word makes the comparison for us! This earthly body that we live in is, just like a tent. And make no mistake it is a great dwelling place! We get to eat and sleep, love and laugh, build friendships and loving relationships, and on top of it all, we get to take in all the wonders of God’s spectacular creation.
But there are times when we realize that this earthly tent that we live isn’t the end all either. It’s not meant to be our permanent dwelling place. Not because there was something wrong with God’s original creation! God’s original creation was perfect! Remember? God looked at all he had made and said – It is very good! But all that changed when sin came into the world. Sin that not only affected our first parents but affects us too and, on a daily basis.
These hands that God has meant for me to serve and honor him I realize can be quickly become self-serving too! And how often I can selfishly disregard the other tents that God put in this world with me. This body that I’m supposed to regard as God’s temple – the dwelling place that God lives by His Spirit I often mistreat and act as though it’s my own personal play house. And that youthful exuberant energy that God gave me when I was young, how quickly that can fade away, and all because of sin. Yes, I’d love to think that this earthly tent could last forever but the longer I’m in it the more I’m glad that it really is not.
Thankfully, our God has given us another dwelling place! A dwelling place not built with human hands. No, this dwelling place, our dwelling place in heaven, was built with someone else’s hands. The hands of our loving Savior Jesus.
And what did Jesus do with those hands? Well first he used them! He used them to live that perfect life that we were supposed to live but didn’t! And then he used them to pay price for my sinful actions! Just think – Jesus hands were pierced for us! And he allowed that earthly tent that he came in (the only one that was perfect by the way) to be destroyed so that you and I would never have to taste corruption. So that we could live on forever in that permanent dwelling that he’s prepared for us in heaven.
No wonder Paul said – “we groan!” Literally yearn for a taste of what God has prepared for us! And with good reason! In heaven God says we will be clothed with a new dwelling place! No more sinful struggles against the old self. No more sadness or pain, no more blame! Rather we will be fully clothed with that perfect life that God gives us through Jesus!
Camping out? It can be fun for awhile. But there’s only one place we can be truly at home! As Jesus said – I go there to prepare a place for you… May that be the home that we look forward to this day and every day! And may it also be the reason we make the most of this life as well!