Friday, June 8, 2012

Things that Last

Friday, June 8
Scripture Reading—II Corinthians 5:1-5

 Paul knew a thing or two about tents.  From his Jewish upbringing, he’d heard the stories about the children of Israel who lived in the wilderness with no permanent housing.  They wandered as a tent community for 40 years looking for a place to put down roots and call home.    Even God’s presence was encountered in a temporary, portable shelter—a tabernacle. And Paul was a tentmaker.  Tarsus, Paul’s hometown, was a place known for its merchants and craftsmen.  One historian noted that, “The black tents of Tarsus were used by caravans, nomads, and armies all over Asia Minor and Syria.”  Tents are for people on the move.  Tents are temporary.  Living in a tent is probably not something most of us would want to do for an extended period of time, no matter how much we like camping!  As Paul thinks about things that endure and things that fade, a perennial point of reflection for ordinary people and great philosophers, it’s only natural that he thought of some of the tents he’d made.  “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” (5:1)  Paul speaks here about the temporary nature of our earthly bodies which house our souls.  These earthly bodies, as we all learn sooner or later, deteriorate over time.  No matter how beautiful, they are just tents, just temporary shelter.  God is building for us something that will last—a heavenly home, a heavenly body, to house our souls.  We spend much of our lives accumulating things that are temporary—houses, cars, portfolios, even reputations.  But how often do we stop and ask ourselves, “What am I doing that will outlive me?” 

 Thought for the day:  Because of God’s grace, life’s greatest disappointments, even death, are only temporary!

 Prayer:  O God, help me to live my earthly life with an exuberant joy, making some contribution that will outlive me.  And help me, when my days are drawing to a close, to have the peace that comes from knowing you have made for me an eternal home that nothing can ever destroy.  Amen. 

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