This morning, as I was spending time in the Word, God opened my eyes to a truth about myself that I’ve longed to understand for the last thirty years. I’m going to share it with you now, because I wonder if it might be true for you too. I was reading in 2 Corinthians 5:1-9
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, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.
You may already know that Paul’s reference to our “earthly tent” is speaking about our physical bodies. Not many of us live in actual tents in the twenty-first century, but in those days many people were nomads, living in tents, and Paul was a tent-maker (Acts 18:1), so this was a reasonable metaphor for him to use. While a tent is temporary, unstable, and unsure, the resurrected, glorified body of a believer is secure, solid, and permanent. I can’t help but wonder if the reason why so few of us are content with our physical bodies is because God created us in such a way that somewhere, deep in our heart, we know that there is a better body waiting for us when we get to heaven – and THAT body will reflect our transformed lives.
I have a vivid memory of me as an 11-year-old, hanging over the back of the love seat in the living room. I remember that I was wearing corduroy pants. (Fashion diva, that I was .. not) A friend of my parents’ had stopped by and as he walked past me, he swatted me on my bo-hiney and made a comment about the weight I’d gained. Mind you, I was entering puberty and my body was taking on a new shape, but I distinctly remember something inside of me dying at that moment. For the first time in my life, that I could remember, I saw my body in a negative way … and I never saw it any other way after that. For the last thirty years of my life, I have cursed my “earthly tent.” I certainly don’t blame the family friend. To be honest, I have an emotional warehouse full of such memories that sneak out to haunt me now and then. No, my body image has been a battle my entire life and today I had an a-ha moment.
For thirty years I’ve cursed this tent, and I’m not willing to do that for another thirty years. In this time between the now and what will be in the next life, I want to be content in my tent. I want to attain a level of wellness and health, such that I’m not continually cursing this tent. Rather, I want my focus to be on Him and the work He has given me to do while I’m here. I want to know that one day I’ll stand before my Father in heaven and say, “I gave my very best and did my very best with everything you gave me. I was thinking about You all the time … not my thighs or my chin or …” You get my drift.
Somewhere in my filing cabinet I have this great old Peanuts cartoon with Peppermint Patty standing in the middle of a dark room, cursing the darkness, while a lamp stands right behind her waiting to be lit. The metaphor is different, but the message is the same. Are we going to curse our tents, obsess about our imperfections, and focus on that which is temporary? Or are we willing to make the necessary changes to strengthen and improve the durability of our tent, temporary though it may be, in order to live in it to full satisfaction until the day comes when we cash it in for the fullness of all that God has in store for us in eternal life?
I’ll let you wrestle with that one yourself, but this tent is about to experience an extreme makeover. Stay tuned.