Bidding a Tent Farewell!

“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.” – 2 Corinthians 5:1 (NLT)

This week marks the end of an era for my family, and especially for my 83 year old mother.  We are closing up her house and moving her into our home to live with my wife and me.  She has lived in that little place for over 55 years, having moved into it when I was only about a year old.  During that time she raised me, witnessed the passing of her father and mother who lived right across the yard, and the passing of her husband and my father right there in that house.  So, today when I took her there for what will be the final time, it was a moment of melancholy, not only for her, but also in an unexpected way, for me too. 

Seeing the house bare and empty, devoid of all furnishings and the familiar pictures on the walls was harder for me than I had realized it would be.  I had grown up there.  I had played in the yard and the surrounding neighborhood.  I had pets buried in that yard.  I left boyhood and became a man there.  Most of all, during every time of crisis and turmoil in my lifetime, I had always known that I could return there to that house, and that it would always be home.  I had prepared my heart to encourage my mom, because I knew it would be hard for her, but I had not prepared myself for my own sense of saddness and loss.

My wife, Barbara, met us there today during her lunch hour.  Before we left I felt moved to approach the Lord in prayer together, and it was then that His Holy Spirit did what He does best.  He began to comfort our hearts and assure us that the place we were saying goodbye to was not really our home.  Our home was with Him and our home was not a place but the people who now held hands, bowed our heads and looked to our shared faith in Christ to give us peace.  It was then that He spoke clearly to me and then through me to my mother and my wife.  

He did this by reminding me that He knew some other folks who looked back in sorrow to what they mistakenly thought was their home.  The Hebrew nation felt saddness when they left Egypt too.  Although it was never really their home, and even though in reality, it was always a place of bondage and slavery, it had become familiar to them.  Later as they approached the place of promise that God had set apart especially for them, they still longed to return and go back to Egypt, even if it meant returning to a life of servitude and suffering.  And it was then that God brought to my mind the words that He spoke to Joshua, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”  Did you get that?  “WHEREVER YOU GO!”  He did not say, “wherever you stay,” but, “wherever you go!”  

A tent is a tent.  It’s not a house.  A house is a house.  It’s not a home.  This world in which we live is not home anymore than the house we emptied this week is our home.  We are all dwelling in temporary digs….tents, and it does not matter how fancy it is or how many decorations and colorful carpets and wall fixtures you adorn it with, it is nothing compared to the incomparable mansion our Lord has prepared of us.  Our natural minds may want to convince us to stay, but the Spirit of God says….”Go!” 

So, today, we are going.  Going to a new place.  Going to a new life.  Going to a new future.  Going to fulfill a new purpose….with hope and with fresh joy.  This is not the end of an era!  This is the start of a new life…..with abundance (John 10:10).  We are not leaving anything of real value behind.  We are looking ahead where Jesus is leading us to move forward and follow Him and His plan.  And its okay, because we can hear Him saying, “I know the plans I have for you.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”  (Jeremiah 29:11)



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