I love camping (as you read this we should be on our way home from Cornwall) but I always say that the best bit of camping is the first night back in your own bed. I love living outdoors, cooking and eating in a field, lying at night in the tent as the wind rustles the trees – as long as it is all temporary and I can come home again.
Perhaps that is why ‘normal’ life can be so stressful and disappointing – it has too much of a temporary feel about it. Our bodies wear out and break like a flimsy tent. We have no more protection from felled dreams or relationship crises than a tent gives from the sun’s heat or the night-time cold. And the sheer hard work of trying to keep up with everything on our ‘to do’ list can seem as difficult as endlessly trudging up the field just to wash up or use the shower. When will life stop feeling like an eternal camping trip with no way home?!
One New Testament writer (Paul) made tents for a living – but he had no desire to live in one forever: “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling.”
If you have no such certainty about life beyond your current tent then please don’t rest until you have settled the matter. Paul knew that the prospect of living in such a house was not to be assumed; some years earlier he had reached a decisive turning point when he stopped pouring all his energy into this-world camping and began to live wholeheartedly with a longer-term purpose. “I consider everything a loss”, he wrote, “compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord … I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him”
Camping without the prospect of a solid home at the end is not good. Far better to be “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.”
Bible verses (NIV): 2 Corinthians 5:1-2 Philippians 3:8-9 Hebrews 11:10