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Sleeping in the Rain

Throughout history, the topic of whether or not there is something after this life on earth has been a hot one. Everyone -- from Job to Socrates, from Galileo to Kanye -- have questioned whether this is all there really is. We use the word “forever” a lot – mostly when talking about being in line at the BMV or how long we’re going to love someone. I heard diamonds last forever. But what does forever even mean? Is it a simple phrase to throw around when we think something takes a long time? Or does forever actually exist?

My brother and I used to go camping twice a year: one week in the dog days of summer and one week in the dead of winter. We would always take at least one friend each. Before we would go out, we’d purchase all of our food so we could cook it over the fire (and btw, you can cook anything over a fire). We’d make sure we had more paintball ammunition than we could ever use, a few changes of clothes, a radio that would provide the soundtrack for the week, our sleeping bags, and a tent. Then we’d set out for a week in the woods – no campers, no cell phones, no 3G, no contact with the world around us for 6 days. Those were some amazing trips. Now, about tents: tents are for housing the food and the clothes and the ammo, not for housing people. People sleep on the ground next to the fire. Tents are basically weak and unstable. They do nothing to protect you from the temperature. Sometimes they protect you from the rain, the wind, and the mosquitoes, but they are mostly for show. Why am I talking about tents? Well because tents have everything to do with the discussion about eternity and forever.

In 2 Corinthians 5, Paul says, “we know that when these bodies of ours are taken down like tents and folded away, they will be replaced by resurrection bodies in heaven—God-made, not handmade—and we'll never have to relocate our "tents" again. Sometimes we can hardly wait to move—and so we cry out in frustration. Compared to what's coming, living conditions around here seem like a stopover in an unfurnished shack, and we're tired of it! We've been given a glimpse of the real thing, our true home, our resurrection bodies! The Spirit of God whets our appetite by giving us a taste of what's ahead. He puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we'll never settle for less”

I have used a tent for housing once or twice in my life; one instance remains vividly in my mind. It was the middle of one summer night and a massive rainstorm came through. I began to get wet so I covered my head up with my sleeping bag. I thought the rain might stop after a few moments, but as I laid there I realized that I had made a very poor choice. The rain continued but got progressively harder and I was starting to get drenched even inside my sleeping bag. I was sleeping about 10 feet from a creek which quickly began to overflow into our campsite – so as I laid there I began to feel the water underneath me as well. So after about 20 minutes I decided I couldn’t take it anymore so I threw off my sleeping bag and sprinted for the tent. Much to my surprise, I was the only person dumb enough to stay in the rain for that long – so I joined the other 5 guys in the 4 person tent. My clothes were drenched so I got rid of them… and as I lay there wide awake in the mildew smelling tent there was only one thought that kept running through my head… “I want to go home”.

The good thing about camping is that you always know it’s temporary. You always know you’re going home. No matter how soggy, dirty, and gross you feel after an incident like that, you always know that in just a short time you’ll be able to take a nice shower in your air conditioned house, climb into some comfy clothes and relax on the soft couch. No matter how hard the ground is, you know you’ll be sleeping in your soft, warm, bed soon. No matter how difficult it is to cook everything over a fire, you know that your mom will have a nice home cooked meal for you when you get home. No matter how difficult camping gets, you always know this: the campsite is not where you belong because it’s not your home.

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