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Thursday, October 4, 2012

Big South Fork National Recreation

"Strike The Tent"

For about 18 hours it was a delightful place to live. This past weekend
some of
our children and I enjoyed a campout in the Big South Fork National
Recreation
Area in northern Tennessee. The campground we chose (Bandy Creek) turned
out to
be a good choice. I arrived about an hour before the others and spent the
time
setting up two tents. The next morning it took only a few minutes to take
everything down. It was hard to tell anyone had been there as we moved on
to
our hike.

There's another spot where I once lived that shows little trace of anyone
having
lived there. A frame house on the side of Pine Mountain was home to me for
the
first nine years of my life. After that we moved into a new house and the
old
structure was torn down. Today there's only a storage building there. Were
it
not for a few old photos, I might have a hard time remembering what that
house
looked like.

Each one of us, I suppose, can identify with such experiences. Certain
structures (or tents) served as our dwelling place, and life may have been
enjoyable there. But time has passed and many of these buildings no longer
exist. We, however, continue to live apart from those houses.

Robert E. Lee is reputed to have said, just before his death, "Strike the
tent."
In his years of military service that would have been an easily-understood
order. Soldiers would know that it was time to take down their tents and
travel
on to the next battle site. On this occasion, though, there were no army
encampments nearby. What did he mean by saying that?

Lee, as you likely know, was also a religious man, well acquainted with the
Bible. Could it be that he was using imagery that was once used by the
apostle
Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:1? "For we know that if our earthly house, this
tent,
is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands,
eternal
in the heavens." To remove any doubt about his meaning, Paul returns to the
image again in verse 4: "For we who are in this tent groan, being burdened,
not
because we want to be unclothed, but further clothed, that mortality may be
swallowed up by life."

Paul connects "tent" with "mortality"; the cessation of life in this
physical
body is like taking down a tent. The tent may be gone, but the one who
dwelt
inside it is still alive and well.

Nearly a thousand years before Paul, Solomon spoke of the separation of body
and
soul at death: "Then the dust will return to the earth as it was, and the
spirit
will return to God who gave it" (Ecclesiastes 12:7). James agreed with this
view of the nature of man: "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so
faith
without works is dead also" (James 2:26).

This concept is welcome light upon a subject that for many is dark. Is
there
anything beyond death? Or, to use our image, will we continue to exist
after
we've taken down the tent? The Bible's answer to that question is a clear
"Yes".

More good news: Jesus is presently preparing a new home for our spirits!
"In My
Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you.
I
go to prepare a place for you" (John 14:2). One day, after I have struck my
tent, my soul will need a new home. That's why I choose Jesus!

Timothy D. Hall

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