Lots of people love to go camping. Just mention the word and you can start them daydreaming about the great outdoors and getting back into it.
While backpackers often sleep under the stars, indispensable to a traditional camping trip is a tent; that tried and true synthetic-fabric home away from home. A tent is a shelter with a time limit. It’s where we stay when we are away. Even the most avid camper doesn’t set one up in the backyard and live in it year-round.
The Apostle Paul, purportedly a tentmaker by trade, describes our entire experience on this planet as living in a tent. He calls our physical body a tent – a temporary dwelling until we go home. Heaven is our home. It is our hope.
Hope inspires us to believe that what we long for now, one day we will have. Hopeless people, with little to look forward to, lack energy and enthusiasm. But, hopeful people are consistently invigorated; they are full of purpose and optimism. Hope is a powerful motivator. For Christ followers, the hope of Heaven empowers us to outlast the hardships of Earth. It even enables us to live each day carelessly – in the most literal sense of the term. “For 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” (2 Corinthians 5:1).
In heaven, we will have a new spiritual body. For now, though, we have a physical body. And, the longer we stay on this camping trip, the more worn out and frayed this “tent” is going to get. So, while we are carefree about our eventual destiny, we are also realistic about our present circumstances. “For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened…” (2 Corinthians 5:4).
There is a realism to our hope of heaven. We groan, but we don’t gripe. We are sad but not discontented. We are weary, but not depressed. We acknowledge that times are tough, but we don’t despair. Through it all, we know that one of these days, we will have a new, strong, stand-up-straight, wrinkle-free, un-flabby body. No more reading glasses. No hearing aids. No cane. No walker. No railings in the bathtub. No more aches and pains, or memory loss. Until then, like the Energizer Bunny himself, we keep going!
Advent reminds us that He has come to us that we might be with Him, eternally.