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I was just a preschooler, barely old enough to remember anything, so my memories of that old tent are like small snapshots in my mind. But a few of those snapshots stand out vividly. I particularly remember my fascination with the hole in the top of the tent and how the rain would drip through and puddle on the dirt floor.
Our old iron bed was strategically positioned so as to avoid the dripping rain. I remember too how the legs of that old bed bored their way into the ground of that dirt floor. The canvas flap that served as a door was tied back to allow entrance and exit from the tent. Though we were only yards away from a stagnant swamp, I don’t remember the mosquitoes which must have a field day with us.
In time the old tent rotted away and the Lastinger family moved into a better house. Today, my wife and I live in a beautiful, new home with all the amenities anyone could justifiably want. Who in their right mind would want to go back to the tent? The Apostle Paul likens our human bodies to a tent.
I. The nature of the old tent
A. It is TEMPORARY:
1. Never meant to be permanent, but moveable
2. You don’t build a permanent residence if you’re just passing through!
3. You give it just enough attention to last until you get to your real home.
B. It doesn’t provide a lot of PROTECTION:
1. Basically just the sun and rain.
2. Wind and storms play havoc with our tents
3. Satan delights in sending wind and storms into our lives.
C. It WEARS OUT very soon.
1. My childhood tent had a rotted hole in the roof.
2. The waterproofing wears out and it begins to leak.
3. The ropes begin to rot and the fabric begins to tear.
4. Our earthly tents wear out in 60, 70, 80 years.
D. It keeps us from our REAL HOME!
1. You can’t be in both places at once (see v. 6 “as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord.”)
2. PROBLEM: We begin to attach sentimental value to the tent!
3. WORSE: Other people (family) become sentimentally attached to the tent and don’t want us to leave it.
II. The biblical approach
(take care of this tent, but don’t become emotionally attached to it.)
A. Our HEAVENLY HOME is ETERNAL
B. Our HEAVENLY HOME: not made by HUMAN HANDS.
C. We should long for our Heavenly Home.
D. Not that we want to be homeless, but that our Heavenly Home will simply replace our earthly tent.
E. Realizing that our residence in this rotting tent prevents us from being at home with Jesus.
F. Therefore we strive to please Him. If you do not know Him, now is the time! Sis. Little would have wanted it now!
G. ILLUST: David Lamb, “If He’s been working on it for 2000 years what a glorious place it must be!”
III. See the obvious parallel here today
A. Sis. Martha (not her real name) has occupied her earthly tent for several years.
B. She’s been sending up building materials for the Lord all this time.
C. This week was moving day for Sis. Martha. She simply moved out of her decaying tent and moved into her eternal mansion.
D. Who among us here would call her back to that old tent?
IV. There is loss here today
A. But it is not her loss: for her it is all gain
B. The loss is ours: we will be deprived of her company
C. The loss will be felt most by her family.
D. It’s alright to grieve. It’s even good.
E. But not as others who have no hope.
POEM: Tennessee Ernie Ford’s classic song:
Taken from Rev. Dr. Arnold Lastinger’s personal sermon notes collection
“Ain’t gonna need this house no longer,
Ain’t gonna need this house no more.
Ain’t got time to fix the shingles,
Ain’t got time to fix the door.
Ain’t got time to oil the hinges,
Nor to mend the window pane.
Ain’t gonna need this house no longer,
I’m getting ready to meet the saints.”