Saturday, May 6, 2017

Tent People

Daily Gratitude Year 5- Day 125: Today, I am grateful we are called to be "tent people". 

Don't worry. I've not lost my mind. Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am not a camper. I enjoy the time outdoors with family and friends and anything cooked on a campfire tastes better. Right? But, when the last embers burn out for the night... I want my warm, soft bed and indoor plumbing. I am not a camper. 

Today's image is an image from Pinterest. My kind of tent! 

Over the years we have used Gary Chapman's books in Sunday School classes at church. He talks about learning and understanding the love languages of your spouse and family. He is brilliant and real. Funny and factual. But, the man advocates for camping. Honestly, he makes me want to actually use the tent in our storage room. Camping teaches us the wonder of being tent people. 

When you live in a tent, you learn a great deal about "enough", which is my word for this year. Enough food, but not too much.  Perishables are limited by ice supplies. There is always the threat of mission focused, team playing, human conquering raccoons (or bears if you camp in bear country). A tent is a place where having enough is embraced. Enough becomes plenty.

Enough blankets to stay warm. Enough wood to keep the fire burning. Enough matches. Enough water. Enough really is... enough. The sweetness comes with the company you keep, be it with nature or loved ones. 

My little brother and his wife have been campers. They have had really nice campers over the years. They camped near our place... a couple hours from his home. We would visit and take in the experience. Then we would go home. Occasionally, we would leave the boys and go back for breakfast or lunch the next day. Matt would suggest we bring the tent and stay, but it was unenthusiastic, as he was pretty sure I'd end up in his nice camper bed with his wife... and he'd be on the hard ground in our tent with my guys. My little brother is smart. 

We relished the fun and rejected the discomfort and uncertainty of tent camping.  

We once camped with Randy's family... in a motorhome in Traverse City, MI. It was a great time. We laughed until we cried and made some forever memories. I still missed my hot shower. I like comfort more than camping. 

Today, I am contemplating the lesson in scripture regarding tent people. The people of that time and culture were, by large, nomadic. Tents were a part of the life.Permanent structures were evidence of wealth and ownership. Wars are most often fought over land and religion. It must break God's heart. 

"The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it." We were assigned to be good caretakers and stewards of it all." Religion without relationship has no heart. God doesn't want us to know his word to set up standards we can never perfectly attain. He wants us to seek, chase and know his heart. He longs for us to love others as he loves us. In growing our relationship with him, keeping his commandments becomes a way to love, honor and thank him. It reflects that we don't just know who He is (like a fan), but that we intimately have a relationship with Him. 

Are we called to be tent people?  We are told... again and again... this world and the things it holds precious are temporary. There is an old gospel tune, "This World Is Not My Home". Not my style of music, but the lyrics speak of the temporal. We are passing through.

Upon the great exodus from Egypt, the Israelites spent 40 years as tent people in the desert. They had so many lessons to learn. Some of them had to be taught and retaught as they were slow to see God's hand. They whined and complained when there was always enough. His care never wavered. Water from rocks. Manna fresh each morning. Quail until they quivered at the thought of another foul fowl meal. Shame on them, right?

Am I so different from them? I'd rather not answer. 

I love to nest and feather my nest. I want home to be cozy and welcoming. My desires might at times conflict with a gospel that calls me to be more open to tent living. Letting go of things to love people more... and to love them better. It is not always easy. It requires intentional living. 

When Jesus said, "Follow me.", he didn't say go pack your favorite things. He simply said, "Come". Tent living means making do. Improvising often requires us to work together. The result is team building. We become agents of change.We have a purpose that is not of this world. 

We have a temporary tent, and this, too, shall pass. We have a promise of a God fashioned soul suit, that will be our forever home. Designer bodies are so much better that designer dresses when God is the artist. 

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 -2 Corinthians 5:1-5 (NLT)

When doctors don't want to answer the hard question of "am I dying", the coined easy answer is "We are all dying.". It is truth but not hurtful. The hope is that the patient will not give up. Sometimes, I think people need a little more answer than that to make appropriate plans. Then again, don't we all need to embrace this daily tent living in human bodies? Why? Because in accepting that death... we can learn to be swallowed up by life for every minute we are granted to walk in His love through a hurting world. 

"So that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life"! To live fully not fearing death, but grateful for the gift of the sixty minutes in each 24 hour day and the sixty seconds in each minute. 

We are to live it in the minute with no fear of the future. He's got our back and our new body waiting. 

Today, I am grateful we are called to be "tent people".

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