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Friday, April 29, 2011

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

What I saw yesterday morning was not unique to our area.  Wednesday
was one of the stormiest days in history throughout much of the
Southeastern United States.  Tornadoes were reported in numerous
locations and many lives were lost.  Thousands will spend many days
picking up the pieces.

Tornadoes have been rare in Northeast Tennessee.  Surrounded by tall
mountain ranges, the strongest winds are normally deflected before
reaching our area.  Yesterday, however, I stood before the wrecked
house of a young couple who are members of the church I serve.  This
had been their home for five years, and much effort had been invested
making it an attractive place.  Now the roof was entirely gone and the
front of the upper floor was scattered for several yards out front.

The important thing is that the couple and their young child are safe.
The outlook for the house is uncertain; it may have to be razed.  But
those three precious lives will go on.  We rejoice over that.

On other occasions I've stood before other wrecked houses.  These
dwellings were not made of wood and bricks, but of flesh and blood.  A
tornado had not torn into these houses, but cancer or some other
affliction.  Some of these habitations eventually fell and are no

That's looking only from the outside, however.  In the cases of those
who were Christians, I can say with confidence that the ones dwelling
within those doomed physical structures are safe and sound.  The sight
of what illness did to their bodies was not representative of what
Christ had done for their souls.  Such knowledge is crucial for us,
who will one day go down the same path.

Paul wrote about the confidence any of us may have: "For we know that
if our earthly house is destroyed, we have a building from God, a
house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  For in this we
groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is
from heaven" (2 Corinthians 5:1,2).  A superior way to view the
process of aging and infirmity, wouldn't you say?!

None of us believe that the residences in which we live will last
forever.  They may, with proper maintenance, endure for decades.  One
day in the distant future, however, they will come down.  Evidence of
that can be found in villages and ghost towns near where you live.
Strangely, though, some refuse to apply this principle to their flesh-
and-blood structures.  They seem to think they will always be strong,
healthy and physically alive.

Peter's view of his body is one we should adopt: "Knowing that shortly
I must put off my tent, just as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me" (2
Peter 1:14).  That's also what the Lord has shown us.  We are mortal,
and "... all return to dust" (Ecclesiastes 3:20).  Knowing our true
nature, we turn to God for help in preparing the durable part of
ourselves, the part that will know no end.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Frenchman who lived a hundred years ago,
wisely observed: "We are not physical beings having a spiritual
experience; we are spiritual beings having a physical experience."
That physical experience will come to an end, sooner or later.  But I,
the one who lives inside this tent that you see, will continue safe
and sound if I am found in Christ.

Come to the light God offers!  Study His word, the Bible.  Worship Him
in spirit and truth (John 4:24).  Get in touch with us if you'd like
to discuss these ideas further.

Timothy D. Hall

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