Trading a Tent for a Cabin
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 Corinthians 5:1
When we first got married, I understood – and I may have been misled – that my wife enjoyed tent camping. So, one summer we headed off to camp in Yellowstone for the week. Near the end of our trip, my wife learned that snow had been forecast and so, she suggested renting a cabin. I was reluctant because I was a real camper who didn’t allow a little dusting of snow to dissuade me. In the end, I consented to her request, and we got a cabin for the night. When we got up the next morning, I was thankful that we’d done so as I looked out on 18 inches of fresh snow, collapsed tents, and bewildered tourists. That was the day that we forever became cabin people.
Paul used this tent/cabin metaphor in today’s passage to describe what it’s like to pass from this mortal existence into eternal life. He called our earthly bodies tents, which will one day be destroyed. We won’t be left naked and exposed, however. As we step into forever, we will inherit our eternal home, which is a beautiful building in comparison to our old, ragged tent. Paul acknowledged that in this life, we’re lost as we groan under the weight and weakness of our old shell. One day though, we’ll stop wandering and truly be home, as we take up residence in our wondrous new life built by God himself.
Because we’ve never seen a heavenly home, and because this earthly tent is all we know, this takes a lot of faith to believe. It’s hard to be motivated by something for which we have no reference. So, we cling to this tent. We try to find our purpose and meaning in it. We pursue its pleasures, as if this is the only satisfaction we’ll ever know. Paradoxically though, it’s in living for immediate gratification that makes us the most unhappy, because God made us to know true joy and peace only in living for the eternal. When we live for ourselves, we’re most miserable. When we live for God and others, we find authentic life.
Just as I’d have been a fool not to listen to my wife and trade that tent for the cabin, we’d be fools not to live with Paul’s perspective in mind. We don’t need to be in any hurry to leave our tents, but we do need to live as though we believe something far better is coming.