This Old Tent
By Dalen Keys
The family tent was old by the time I came along. I was the youngest of three children by many, many years and my family had thoroughly broken it in. To me, it seemed ancient! I can’t absolutely prove it, but I am pretty sure that our tent came from Corinth and was stitched personally by Paul. (Acts 18:1-3)
I especially remember our tent during a camping trip to Bankhead National Forest in Double Springs, Alabama. Night was already falling when we arrived. My brother and I set up the tent as Mom and Dad pulled together a quick meal. Then off to bed so that we’d be rested for a fun day of activities tomorrow. Unfortunately, the zipper broke on the tent as Dad was closing up for the night. Mom and Dad did the best they could to hold the flaps together with any pins and clips Mom happened to have in her purse. But, we all awakened to itchy and swollen eye lids, ears and cheeks from the persistent mosquitoes that found their way through the gaps and holes that just couldn't be patched up.
We recovered during a day filled with swimming and relaxing under the blue Alabama sky; only occasionally scratching at the bites from the night before. After dinner that night, we gathered around the picnic table and played Flinch under a lantern hanging from a tree limb above us. Laughter filled the warm night until we finally made our way to bed. Although somewhat nervous about another attack by those blood thirsty mosquitoes, Dad had made repairs during the day that brought us some sense of security. Nonetheless, I was going to keep my head under the covers, just in case. But, another surprise awaited us during the night.
At first it was just random flashes gently illuminating the tent. Then we heard the rumbles following those flashes as the wind began to swirl around the trees above us. Our tent held firm. Eventually, the heavens opened with torrents of rain. It was not just one of those passing storms, by no means, this one lingered. The poor tent did its best to defend us from the onslaught but it eventually began to sag and leak as the canvas became increasingly saturated. Dad finally relented and gave the command. We all jumped into action as we quickly packed up in the pouring rain to head home. We jammed our personal belongings and camping utensils into the trunk of the car with the poor tent being the last item smashed in to the cramped trunk. The tent was never the same after that night.
These days I relate more and more to that old family tent. I’m tending to sag and droop as the years pass. I might not be losing a zipper but other body parts are beginning to fail, usually at the most embarrassing moments. There is no rush; but fortunately, I’ll set aside my frail tent one day.
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. 2 Peter 1:13-14 (NIV)
I’m reassured with God’s promise of that greater day. On those days when the knees creak and the hips are stiff, I long to put aside this old tent of mine.
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Philippians 3:20-21
I hope that eternity has some essence of that night in Bankhead National Forest. That night filled with so much laughter that our sides ached. I believe that someday I’ll set aside my old tent and put on a glorious new body. Then I’ll have eternity to swim, relax and laugh with my friend, my Savior. And, I’m pretty sure that heaven is mosquito-free.
Copyright 2011. Dalen Keys. Used by permission.
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Dalen Keys is a freelance writer with articles appearing in Rev Magazine, Devozine, The Secret Place, Creativity Portal, DevoKids and Youth Worker Journal; to name a few. He released a children’s picture book titled Just a Quilt? in February 2009. Dalen has a Ph.D. in chemistry and, in addition to his writing, he is a Research Manager with the DuPont Company. Within the sciences, he has twelve published articles and seven patents with two more pending. Dalen is married to Mitzie and they live in Landenberg, PA. They have three children and one grandchild. To learn more about Dalen and his writing visit his web site at www.dalenkeys.com
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