Early in our marriage, my wife and I learned the joys of taking camping vacations. We had recently purchased a brand-new red 1983 Honda Civic hatchback edition. We bought some basic camping equipment including a small three-person backpacking tent. We borrowed a Coleman white fuel, pump camp stove from my father-in-law, and other equipment. Then we loaded our ice chests with food, and packed all our gear in the back of that new car. Then we headed for the mountains of Colorado.
We arrived at a campground with no amenities near Wolf Creek Pass, located the most level place we could find to set up our tent, and began to make ourselves at home before the sun went down. Even in the summertime, the evenings were quite cold, even while huddling together in a three-person tent. On top of that, it rained almost constantly the whole time we were there. We couldn’t hike in the rain. Being on top of the mountains also posed a bit of danger due to the occasional lightning. So we spent most of the time sitting together in our tent, talking, reading books, and dreaming about our future together. Having only been married for two years, we were still newlyweds.
We could not cook inside the tent as it was too small and too dangerous. We opened the hatchback of our new car, and stood under that to cook our meals from the back end of the car. We ate there, washed our dishes there, and then ran back to the tent to get out of the rain. The days were cold; the nights were even colder. Since we were newlyweds, it was all great fun!
While it was a memorable time in our lives, I couldn’t imagine living that way for very long. The tent got dirty. We were cramped together. And we were cold. Looking back now it was a great adventure, but thank God it was only temporary. Toward the end of our week, the sun came out, and we were able to finally take a hike. We bathed in the nearby stream with no hot water. After nearly a week it was good to get clean again. Finally, we packed all of our gear into the back of our new car, and we drove all the way back home. I still have fond memories of that trip.
The Jews had an annual observance very similar to that camping trip. It was called the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. In Hebrew it was known as Sukkot. God commanded this observance as a reminder of the temporary dwellings they inhabited while wandering through the wilderness for forty years. They were to make temporary shelters out of branches and leaves. It reminded them how God provided for them every day for forty years. They had water, and bread to eat every day without having to plant or tend to it. Their feet did not swell (Nehemiah 9:20-22). Their clothes did not wear out (Deuteronomy 29:5).
In this life we are nothing more than pilgrims or sojourners. We are temporary residents or aliens in this life. No matter what we do, we cannot stay here forever. This life is temporary. It is like a tent, if you will, in which we dwell temporarily. And just like a camping trip, the vacation comes to an end, we fold the tent up, put it back in its case, and return to our permanent home. In Second Corinthians 5:1-2, the apostle Paul compared the human body to a Tabernacle or a temporary dwelling. One day we will fold up this temporary dwelling, place it in a box, and move into our eternal home, a home not made by human hands. It will be a permanent place. It will be a beautiful place. It will be a perfect place because God himself will be there.
Too often we become too attached to this world. We act as if we’re going to live here forever. We act as if nothing is ever going to change. But it does. Some sooner, some later, but all of us will one day leave this world. Everything that we think we possess we will leave behind. We will go to our eternal abode. The question remains, however; where will that eternal abode be? Will it be with God forever, or will it be separation from him forever?
The answer to that question depends on how you relate to his son, Jesus Christ. First John 5:12 states, “He who has the Son has the life. He who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” Do you have Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If so, how would anyone know that Christ dwells in you? Does your life reflect Christ in all aspects, or do you have just a Sunday-morning religion?
No matter how well you take care of this tent, it will one day wear out. Someone will pack it away in a box, and you will go to your eternal dwelling. Hold loosely to this world because you can’t hang on forever. Remember that you are nothing more than a pilgrim here.