2 Second Tents

The strangest thing happened the other day that got me thinking about tents, and as a result, my life will never be the same. I know, you’re probably thinking at this point, “come on Tom, don’t you think you’re being a little melodramatic, tents changed you’re life?” Well, yeah, I am being a bit dramatic, but you’ll have to indulge me for a bit. Have you ever stopped to think about how amazing those portable staked structure really are? I’ll never forget my first camping adventure where I learned that a small, canvas (often multi-colored which equals awesome!), waterproof (hopefully), easily constructed apparatus (yeah, right-what’s this extra pole for?), could provide a joy and freedom like no other known to man. For thousands of years, people have been enjoying the benefits and life changing qualities of a portable home away from home. So what makes tents so wonderful? Well, for one, they can do this:

I guarantee Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob dreamed about having a tent like this. Perhaps it’s not as roomy as what theirs were, but in goes up in two seconds (never mind what happens if the wind really catches it). Okay, so I have to confess, it wasn’t the thought of tents that changed me (big surprise). So, where did this thought of tents come in? I received a call the other day informing me of a dear friend whom was in the final stages of his life. Like any rational human being, my knee jerk reaction was one of sadness, and if I’m honest, I was a little afraid. I mean were talking about death here, it’s the scariest thing on the planet, right? Nobody escapes the hovering thing called death (imagine me saying that with a really deep scary voice like the one from Michael Jackson’s Thriller). I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like being around people when they are dying, but this encounter so radically changed my view on death that I will never be the same.

As I stood at the bedside of my friend taking his last breathes, I was taken back by something that I never expected to feel or experience. I felt peace. It wasn’t just any peace, but it was a peace so profound that I couldn’t explain it. My friend Marv was a godly man who was ready to go home. He knew his time had come, and he was blessed with a time to say goodbye to his friends and family. As I held his hand to tell him how his life had impacted mine, I felt like the moment was Holy. Even down to his final breathes; his life was proclaiming the gospel message of God’s love. The room was filled with so much unexplainable joy and all I could think about was how Marv’s life touched the heart of God. We laughed and cried together for a short bit and then had the honor of praying with Marv and thanking him for a life well lived. God’s presence filled the room and I understood for the first time; “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15).

On the drive home, I couldn’t help but think about life, love, family, and you guessed it, tents. Why tents you ask? We are all just passing through in this life. This earth is not our home. I was never more aware of this fact as when I was holding Marv’s hand, and feeling the presence of God cover him (and by proxy, us), like a warm blanket. I was struck by the notion that our bodies are just tents. As awesome as they can seem at points in our lives (just like the 2 second tent), they eventually start to wear out and break down. Paul said,

1 “For 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. 2 Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, 3 because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. 4 For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (1 Corinthians 5:1-4).

Our lives are ‘2 second tents.’ It doesn’t matter who you are, at some point, your tent will expire. The gift that Marv had of being able to say goodbye isn’t given to all. I don’t want to leave this earth with unfinished business with family, friends, and especially the Lord. God hasn’t promised that we will know when we are going to go home, but he has given us today, and what we do with today will echo in eternity.

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