I love to go backpacking. I love the whole process of packing my backpack, getting the dogs and food, hiking into the woods and setting the campsite up. I tend to go overkill and make a nice spot with hammock and a comfy tent (and I even bring 2 pillows because I’m like my comfort, even when camping). Yup, camping is sweet. But it’s not where I live, thank the Lord! For me, when I’m out in the wilderness, it’s a mixture between enjoyment and longing. I really enjoy being out there because it is so peaceful, fun and simple. But it’s also fun because it’s short term. If I had to live out in the forest, it wouldn’t really be much fun.
This is the illustration Paul uses in 2 Corinthians 5 when talking about this world and the next:
1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
Our current “tent” (our physical bodies and this current form of creation) is brokenly beautiful. And utterly temporary. Yet we all spend the vast majority of our resources making our tent comfy, with extra pillows and hammocks. We spend our time, money, obsessions etc etc on that which simply cannot last. On the one hand we ought to enjoy and dance in this “tent” we’ve been gifted, while also not worshiping it and acting like it’s the end-all, be-all. We have a greater tent God is preparing in advance for us. A “realer” tent that will swallow up this tent. What we have here won’t just vanish, it will be ingested into the REAL creation when God re-creates this broken beauty (our bodies, forests, relationships, animals etc). One day the clock will stop ticking and LIFE will overwhelm, overcome and overtake the fallen world. We saw this in it’s initial phase on the cross when Jesus, who was/is LIFE in the flesh, allowed darkness and death to overcome him so that, when he rose again, his LIFE would reverse the curse of sin and bring hope to our otherwise futile world.
So on the one hand…enjoy! This “camping trip” we are on can be beautifully bitter sweet. But what makes it even more enjoyable is knowing that it is temporary. I can give my entire self away because before the blink of an eye, it will be transformed into something more “real” that will reveal our current world as a fleeting shadow that is being transformed into glory .
See C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce for an amazing little short story that illuminates this concept.