Packing Up the Tent, Part I

Tents and forts.  What mom doesn’t love these?

Yeah.  That’d be me. The mess and disorder of it all.  The amount of space they take up!  The fights that occur when little people occupy too small a space. The clean up afterwards.

Whenever my girls pop up the tent, they seem to think every book and toy they own must join them inside.  Then, they drag all of the blankets and pillows off their beds and stuff those in also.

So when it comes time to clean up, it’s not just disassembling the “east to assemble” toy tent that actually requires an engineering degree and an Einstein intellect.  Oh no, it’s re-ordering my entire house.  Replacing bedding, re-shelving books, re-sorting toys.

But my girls have a renewed interest in tents and forts this month.  That’s because my oldest daughter spotted a pink teepee set at our church’s Awana store and plopped down the money she had earned saying verses so she could tote that tent right on home.

Nevermind that it didn’t come with instructions.  Seriously.

Nevermind that Momma starts hyperventilating at anything resembling a tent.

After extreme stretching of the intellect and me audibly huffing out huge sighs to remind her of what a self-sacrificing mom she has, we finally popped the last piece of the teepee into place.  She took up residence as if it were a palace.

So, this Mom has tents on the brain.

The apostle Peter did, too.  When he wrote the letter that would become the book of 2 Peter, he was nearing his death.

He wrote to his fellow Christians:

“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have.  I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body,  because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.  And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things” (2 Peter 1:12-15).

A tent.  That’s all Peter’s body was to him.  A temporary residence he would soon abandon for a permanent abode in heaven.

Knowing that he was about to pack in the earthly tent, he decided to focus his teaching on a few lessons that he wanted people to remember after he was gone.  After he was gone, he wanted his fellow Christians to “always be able to remember these things.”

Sometimes we need that kind of focus.  Sure, we give our kids a million pieces of glorious advice every day:

Brush your teeth.
Yes, you need to take a bath.
Eat your sandwich before your Doritos.
Say, “Yes, sir” and “Yes, ma’am.”
Chew with your mouth closed.
Choose good friends.
Do your homework.
Don’t beat your sister over the head with a naked Barbie doll.

You get the idea.

But what matters?  When we toss aside this tent, what will they really remember?

And for those of you without children, what about your friends, your students, your co-workers, your family, your church.  What’s the lasting message they will take away from your tent?

Tabitha (also known as Dorcas) had the rare opportunity to discover her post-tent legacy.  She was a disciple of Jesus who lived in Joppa and Scripture tells us that “she was always doing good and helping the poor.”  But she grew ill and died.

The people in the town sent word to Peter to hurry on over to Joppa.  When he arrived and walked into the upper room where Tabitha’s body had been prepped for burial, “All the widows stood around him, crying and showing him the robes and other clothing that Dorcas (Tabitha) had made while she was still with them” (Acts 9:39).

They held up the outfits Tabitha had sewn for them.  They laid out the sashes that she’d stitched and the robes she’d crafted and they said to Peter, “You’ve got to bring her back!”

At Women of Faith, my friend and I had a special opportunity to sit in a small room with Sheila Walsh, one of the speakers, and she shared from this passage of Scripture.  She challenged us to live in such a way that our presence makes a difference.

When we pack in our tents, will people lay out physical reminders of the impact we made in their lives?  Will they point to tangible evidence of our kindness?

Will they, as the apostle Peter desired, be able to tell simply and clearly what life message we shared with them?

I don’t mean, “She was a nice person.  She was friendly.”

I mean, “When you saw her, you saw Jesus at work.  You couldn’t know her without getting to know Him.”

That’s what Tabitha’s life and death meant to others.  In life, her acts of kindness to widows gave them enough faith to call for Peter to raise her from the dead after her illness.

And after her death, Peter—sent for by those Tabitha had helped—-called for her to come back and “She opened her eyes, and seeing Peter she sat up.  He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet. Then he called for the believers, especially the widows, and presented her to them alive. This became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord.” (Acts 9:40-42).

In life, in death, Tabitha brought people to Jesus.

In life, in death, Peter encouraged the believers to follow Christ.

In this tent and out of it, how are you impacting others?

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2011 Heather King