Before my dad died one of the things I’m told he mentioned frequently was the fact that his body was “just a tent”. Afterwards I came across this passage.
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. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on[a] we may not be found naked. 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. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
2 Cor 5:1-5 (ESV)
I love this concept. Some people hate camping, I’m not one of those people. I love camping. But even for me a tent is only suitable as a temporary dwelling. I love the picture of our bodies as only being suitable for a temporary home for our souls. In that same vein there’s this:
By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. … All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Hebrews 11:9-10, 13 (NIV)
Yes. We are all strangers on the earth. In facing this truth and my own mortality the words of Paul have also really resonated with me.
I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
Phil 1:20-23 (NIV)
I’m jealous of Paul that he knew what was “more necessary.” I wish I knew which was more necessary for me. I don’t. But one thing I do know, and that is this:
Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well
James 5:14-15a (NIV)
I am daily praying that I would know what is more necessary, and most days also praying in faith that God would make me well. I don’t know what that will look like. If it will mean the cancer is gone at surgery, or if it will mean I have to go through chemo again to reach that promise. In the meantime I say “Lord I believe, help my unbelieve” (Mark 9:24) and I hear him reply “I am willing” (Luke 5:13). And like last time I also cling to Jesus’ words in Mark 16:17-18:
And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.