OnFire Encouragement Letter
OnFire #292 Tenting in December
I can’t explain it, but lately I’ve been thinking nostalgically about tenting. So much so, in fact, that I even considered setting up a tent in my backyard last week. I’ve done a fair amount of camping over the years in a variety of situations and settings. Our family spent many weekends in campgrounds when I was young. We camped several times a year in the scouting program. Christian camping was important in my faith development. As a university student I camped three summers in Cavendish, PEI. And as a family we’ve had a camper trailer for many years.
But what I’ve been thinking about lately are the canoe camping trips I’ve been on with friends and with my sons. There is something about getting away from civilization, leaving behind power lines and conveniences, and lighting a fire together which makes everything else worthwhile. It is a lot of work to plan, pull together gear, pack and repack, travel, and set up. There are always difficulties and obstacles along the way. We’ve dealt with heavy rain, cold, forgotten, lost or broken gear, flies, ticks, injuries, portages, navigational challenges, and close calls.
And yet these difficulties are the things which make the trips so memorable. We retell those stories over and over again. There is a bond of shared experiences from having tented together which would not have happened otherwise.
I was already thinking about these things when I came to John 7 in my Sunday class. In that chapter Jesus met his disciples in Jerusalem for the Feast Booths, or Tabernacles, which commemorated God’s provision for His people in the desert after He delivered them from slavery in Egypt. Interestingly, the name of the festival in Greek comes from the word for tent. It is, literally, the feast of tents.
I love it when personal thoughts converge with something I find in scripture. While working through my own longings to pitch a tent, and studying John 7 for my class, I was drawn back to John 1:14. “The Word [Jesus] became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” It doesn’t sound like much, but the word for “dwell” is rooted in the word for “tent.” We could read it this way: “The Word became flesh and tented among us.”
John wants us to see the connections. Moses descended from the mountain with words from God, but Jesus is the Word. The tabernacle was a symbol of God’s glory and presence, but Jesus is God in the flesh. The people found manna from God in the wilderness, but Jesus is the Bread of Life.
Jesus pitched his tent with us. There are times when we need to be reminded that He has travelled the same wilderness route we walk. It is sometimes a lonely, difficult road, and it is easy to be discouraged. But God does not stand far off from His people. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
I hope this helps. Be on fire.
OnFire is a biweekly letter on faith and character written by Troy Dennis. This letter published Dec 12, 2012. Scripture taken from New International Version, 1984. To subscribe or reply, email firstname.lastname@example.org . Archives are located at www.onfireletter.com. Blog located at www.onfireletter.blogspot.com