Several years ago my friend, David, died after years of battling a terrible disease. I worked with his wife at a Christian school. A year or so before his death, while he was in the midst of his struggle, she read something to us at morning devotions. I've never forgotten it, Lord. I eventually dug around the Internet and located a copy of it. So, I bought the book from which it is taken. Do Not Lose Heart by Dave and Jan Dravecky is a collection of meditations on suffering, illness, and death.
I want to read this lovely meditation back to You, Lord, and thank You for this comforting word picture. I hope our readers are blessed by it as much as I have been. It's taken from the chapter entitled, "Tents Are Temporary." The anonymous piece is entitle "O Mr. Tentmaker."
[The tent-dweller speaks.]
It was nice living in this tent when it was strong and secure and the sun was shining and the air was warm.
But Mr. Tentmaker, it's scary now.
You see, my tent is acting like it is not going to hold together; the poles seem weak and they shift with the wind.
A couple of stakes have wiggled loose from the sand; and worst of all, the canvas has a rip.
It no longer protects me from beating rain or stinging fly.
It's scary in here, Mr. Tentmaker.
Last week I went to the repair shop and some repairman tried to patch the rip in my canvas.
It didn't help much, though, because the patch pulled away from the edges and now the tear is worse.
What troubled me most, Mr. Tentmaker, is that the repairman didn't even seem to notice that I was still in the tent; he just worked on the canvas while I shivered inside.
I cried out once, but no one heard me.
I guess my first real question is: Why did you give me such a flimsy tent?
I can see by looking around the campground that some of the tents are much stronger and more stable than mine.
Why, Mr. Tentmaker, did you pick a tent of such poor quality for me?
And even more important, what do you intend to do about it?
[Mr. Tentmaker answers.]
O little tent dweller, as the Creator and Provider of tents, I know all about you and your tent, and I love you both.
I made a tent for Myself once, and lived in it on your campground. My tent was vulnerable, too, and some vicious attackers ripped it to pieces while I was still in it.
It was a terrible experience, but you will be glad to know they couldn't hurt me; in fact, the whole occurrence was a tremendous advantage because it is this very victory over my enemy that frees me to be a present help to you.
O little tent dweller, I am now prepared to come and live in your tent with you, if you'll invite me.
You'll learn as we dwell together that real security comes from my being in your tent with you.
When the storms come, you can huddle in my arms and I'll hold you.
When the canvas rips, we'll go to the repair shop together.
Some day, little tent dweller, some day your tent is going to collapse; you see, I've designed it only for temporary use.
But when it does, you and I are going to leave together. I promise not to leave before you do.
And then, free of all that would hinder or restrict, we will move to our permanent home and together, forever, we will rejoice and be glad.
Earthen vessels. Jars of clay. Tents. All temporary dwellings for eternal souls. All subject to decay. All to be shed and left behind someday. It's the only way to enter eternity.
Dear Readers, do you know where your permanent home will be? Have you accepted My Son, Jesus, into your tent? Into your life? Will you live forever with me in Heaven?
Or are you hanging on to some flimsy, temporary canvas, hoping it will last forever?