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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Our Bodies Are Tents

This post has been in the works, but I admit I still don't really want to write it.

Some years ago I went out with a friend of mine who is very girly to Paneras and Ross just for a fun break from collegiate stress.  We had great fun with our drinks and bagels, then when we went into Ross she was looking at shirts and dresses and pants. I looked over them with partial interest, but then I spotted it. It was beautiful! It was just the right size! It was even blue, my favorite color! And it was ONLY TEN DOLLARS! I was so excited and claimed it eagerly, taking it up to the register.

My friend laughed at me, telling me it was so me.  My purchase?

A blue tent. It's lovely, and I still have it.  And I still love it.

My friend said, "Pam, only you would go into Ross and get super excited about buying a tent."

Now, what does that have to do with the point I'm making today? Well not that much except it's funny and it sets up my next story.
This isn't a photo of my tent, but I didn't feel like setting it up just to take a pic. It looks pretty much like this, except the door rolls down, not the side, and the bottom is black, not blue.
One year in college, my friend Lydia decided to start a student Bible Study.  She wanted it to be student led. It was small, usually only five or six people, including Lydia and I, and we met in the chapel.  So then it was my turn. I was very inspired, and studied and made reference sheets for like ten people. I put my heart into it and so therefore, I was pretty crushed because the only person who showed up was Lydia.

It was exam week.

So I persevered and Lydia and I alone had Bible Study, there in the chapel, in my tent.  Yes, in my tent, the same blue one from the other story. Because we were studying tabernacling and the concept of our bodies as tents we live in during this earthly pilgrimage. It was an awesome study, but I admit it made me feel like God must not want me to be a leader since this wasn't the first time very few (or no one) showed up for something I tried to set up alone.  But that's an entirely different post.

Now, this blog post isn't really about that Bible Study topic exactly.  Actually, it's more about keeping our bodies in perspective. With the Couch to 5K thing, health concerns, other exercising, and whatnot, I've been thinking a lot about my body.

And I think God wants me to be more conscious of it than I have been in the past. Indeed, my attitude has been, "It's just a stupid temporary dwelling, no need to really care a whit about it" in the past.  That attitude was partially because my body never has been good at doing what I tell it so: I am very uncoordinated, clumsy, unathletic, pimply, allergic... you get the idea.  But mainly it was because I am aware of my own obsessive compulsive tendencies.  I don't have OCD. D is for disorder, which means it messes with your ability to lead a normal life. I don't think that's true. But I know I do have to fight my OC tendencies, and I knew if I told myself "take care of your body" I'd be apt to over do it.

Because I don't want to worship a false god.

I've seen many Christians get sucked into the mentality that our bodies being temples means there's something holy about exercising and eating right (and conversely, that Christian who don't are failing God). They begin to worship their bodies, or health, or their looks, or their endorphin high. Don't get me wrong, you can totally worship while you exercise and eating right is certainly a nice thing.  But when the Bible talks about the Bible as a temple, it's talking about how the most important thing is the Holy Spirit inside it, and that you keep it healthy and holy by refraining from sexual sin.

"Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." -1 Corinthians 6: 15-20

But God's definitely been telling me to take better care of my body. Just to mend my tent, which has some rips and tears.

Yet, I've become a little OC, as I feared. I'm thinking about it all day long, reading about it, going to bed with it in mind and dreaming about it. Last night in my dream I ran a mile in 7.7 minutes.  I was so happy.

Meanwhile, my brain has been far from God. Grr.

I can see why God wanted me to write this. Every word is searing itself into me. So I have some more to share, with both you and myself.

"For we know that if our earthly house, a tent, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. And, in fact, we groan in this one, longing to put on our house from heaven, since, when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. Indeed, we who are in this tent groan, burdened as we are, because we do not want to be unclothed but clothed, so that mortality may be swallowed up by life. And the One who prepared us for this very thing is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.
Therefore, though we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord— for we walk by faith, not by sight— yet we are confident and satisfied to be out of the body and at home with the Lord. Therefore, whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or bad." - 2 Corinthians 5:1-10

And as Peter wrote:

"Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you have. I consider it right, as long as I am in this tent, to wake you up with a reminder, knowing that I will soon lay aside my tent, as our Lord Jesus Christ has also shown me. And I will also make every effort that after my departure you may be able to recall these things at any time." 2 Peter 1:12-15  (He's talking about the fruits of the spirit, and obviously he's reminded us of it even after he left his tent, because we're still reading this! :) )

So you see, our bodies are just tents. I don't know how many tents you've seen, but they're flimsy.  You take a knife to one and could shred it in seconds. Not so much houses.  They leak. They need to be resealed every so often. They can be blown over with wind.  You can lose the stakes easily.  They are cumbersome and require assembly.

But they're shelter.  They will keep out more rain and bugs and wind than being out in the open. They're just enough comfort to seem like home, while just enough uncomfort to remind you what home is really like...

As I obsess, God's trying to remind me, and you (especially the women) there's a vital reason he doesn't want us to be comfortable in our bodies. He doesn't. Really.  Why?

Because He's got a beautiful body prepared for you in Heaven.  So if this one is covered with pimples and stretch marks, it's too fat or too thin, it's got stringy hair or frizzy hair, it's too short or too tall, it's too fair or too dark, it's allergic or sick or injured... relax. This is just your tent. We're hiking right now, journeying along. But our tents will wear out. And our journey will end.  And then we'll go to beautiful houses prepared by Jesus himself, houses where no thief can break in and steal and the roof never leaks.

And, like that Bible Study long ago, if this blog post was just prepared for one person, that's okay.  That person is me, and I am so humbled right now because God's been kicking my butt with every word. He's disciplining me, but as the dear Lord's made known:

"Do not despise the LORD's instruction, my son, and do not loathe His discipline;
for the LORD disciplines the one He loves, just as a father, the son he delights in.
" Proverbs 3:11-12

And so this discipline is a sign to me of God's love, and I really, really need that right now.  I have tears in my eyes.  Love to you all.

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