Thump, thump….Grrrrr….We were awakened in the middle of the night to hear a bear just outside our tent. When we arrived earlier that day at the campsite in the Adirondacks, park officials told us to watch out for bear activity. They gave us special instructions on what to do with our food and we carefully followed what they said. Yet, some hours later, we found ourselves with a bear lurking just feet away from us with only a thin layer of nylon between us.
As we lie there motionless, waiting to see what would happen next, a thought occurred to me. “I have peanut oil on my head!” I know, you are asking, “Why in the world did you have peanut oil on your head?!” The doctor had given an oil to treat some skin issues I was experiencing on my scalp at the time, and one of the main ingredients was peanut oil.
My thoughts then took me back to a commercial I had seen when I was a child. In the commercial, a bear came wandering into a campsite and saw an old, Airstream camper. The camper was in the shape of a Twinkie, and he thought he had found his prized snack. So, he thumped over and ripped the top of the camper off, only to discover the people inside. Then he said, “Hey! Where’s the cream filling?!” Well, as I lie still in our tent that night, I imagined at any moment the bear ripping open the top of the tent, looking for his cherished food. He would be sadly disappointed when he saw me and would say to himself, “Hey! Where are the peanuts?!”
Everything turned out okay. After a few minutes of panting breath outside our temporary dwelling, the bear meandered off to another campsite in search of something scrumptious. We heard the person in that site yelling and banging pots to scare it away. When morning came, we still had our tent and I still had my scalp! We sure did miss the safety and security of our own home, though.
Life for followers of Christ is kind of like a camping trip. The Apostle Paul wrote that the bodies in which we live are “tents,” temporary homes that we’ve been given (see 2 Corinthians 5:1f). These temporary homes are fragile, subject to physical and spiritual dangers that lurk about us. They also do not last forever, aging with time. (Maybe some of us think our tents have seen their better days!)
It’s easy while we live in these fleeting dwelling places to long for something better, something safe and secure. The good news is that there is something better for those who have put their trust in Christ. God, the Master Architect has prepared a building, “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” It was for this home that Paul longed for and for which we do, too. Though we may not see it now with our eyes, it is more real than the ground on which we walk. Moving day will one day come and what a day that will be!
But what should we do until then? We are now like what I was in the tent that night – stuck until it’s time to go home. We need to entrust ourselves into God’s care for safekeeping and aim to please Him in all we do. We are to fill our time with going about His business and telling others about the eternal home He offers through Christ. Then, when this “camping” trip is over and it’s time to go home, we will be ready.
“Lord, dangers lie in wait for me and this tent in which I live does not offer much safety. Until it is time to go home, help me to take heart as I put my trust in You. Guide me to go about Your business in this world, ever looking forward to the safe, secure home You have prepared for me in the heavens. It is in Christ’s name I pray, amen.”