Our “In Tents” Experience

Blog Post by Stan Kellner – www.stankellner.com.

(Read II Corinthian 5)

 I think we all can relate to a multitude of situations in which we find ourselves and when we get pressed against the wall regarding an important decision, a relationship that needs to be mended or a deadline that is to be met, we call those times – “intense” experiences. 

What we base our lives on, how we view our circumstances, where we get our help in these intense times contribute to revealing our inner character and, at the same time, can speak volumes to those who are watching our lives.

I’d like to give a little twist to that phrase “intense” as we look at life in Bible times and see if we can derive any helpful principles that will help us on our daily journey.

As I’ve spent time in the Word and traveled to the Middle East, it has always been fascinating to recount the way God has often led His people.  During certain seasons of Old Testament history, for example, the Israelites lived in tents and worshipped in a big tent. 

In other words, they had “in tents” experiences. LOL!

It was said of Abraham that he was able to pull up his tent stakes.  When we hear the story of David and Goliath we hear again of “tent cities”.  The pinnacle of the physical tent experience was the tabernacle in the wilderness – a structure that, while complex in assembly – could be taken down in a fast way so that the people could move on to the next location for how ever long they would dwell there.  By the way, it was in this tabernacle that the glory of God resided during those days.

We can learn two things from the tabernacle example – God is present in our midst (in general) and He goes with us wherever we go (in specific).

What are some of the characteristics of living in tents?

  • They’re easily assembled (except when you were learning to do this at Boy Scout camp!).
  • Most tents keep you exposed to the elements at least to some extent (in other words they’re not as air-tight as a typical home)
  • Many people can dwell in a small area.
  • They can be easily disassembled.
  • They can be easily transported.

So, having “in tents” experiences isn’t all bad, depending on the context in which you are living, of course.

If you’re careful not to rush by a short verse in the New Testament, you get an even further example of the “in tents” experience.  It says in John 1:14, “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…” (NASB) 

“Dwelt among us” can also be translated “tabernacled among us”.  What was the tabernacle?  A big tent.  So, it even says of Jesus that His physical, earthly body in which He was born through Mary was only temporary in nature.

II Corinthians 5, like everything mentioned above, is challenging us to view life through different lenses, with a different mindset, a different set of goals at stake.

Are we all supposed to move out of our houses, apartments, condos, etc. and live on the streets or in tents?  Only if God calls you to that lifestyle or if your circumstances cause you to end up there.  Actually, though, that’s not even the issue. 

Okay, Stan, so what IS the issue?

Here it is – how much do we hold on to this life’s possessions, values, experiences, mindsets, influences versus how much do we hold on to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our Faith?  Pardon the pun, but there is much at stake related to how you answer this question.

The world is looking at you.  The world is hungry and thirsty for truth.  They are yearning for answers, ultimate answers.  Is the way we are choosing to live our lives making an impact on those who are watching us or do we comfortably fit in with little or no impact on our friends, neighbors, school or work mates, etc.

So, after having read II Corinthians 5 and the previous thoughts of this devotional, what can we gather from this?  How does this apply to my life today?

  • We need to adopt an eternal perspective – this life isn’t all that there is.
  • We need to adapt to a different lifestyle – hold on to this life more loosely.
  • We need to be adept at applying the II Corinthians 5 principles, which will then affect how we view our relationships, our journey in life, our jobs, schools, neighborhoods and spiritual involvements and the level of impact we can make on our world.

As we face intense experiences, let’s remember God’s “in tents” principles!

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