Our Bodies Like Tents

  • July 6, 2011
  • #7613

Joni shares a verse penned by Steve Coyle which likens our bodies to living in a tent.

Hey, it’s July, and it’s time to head for the beach!

Hi, I'm Joni Eareckson Tada and I remember when we went beach camping as kids. I tell you, I thought living in a tent was the ultimate adventure. I mean come on…sand on the canvas floor… mosquitoes… rain. Break out the tarps; pull down the canvas flaps. Dirt? Hey, dirt never hurt anybody. I thought living in a tent was great fun. I could have done it all summer.

Now, decades later, it’s a different story. Ken and I gave up camping a long time ago. For some reason, having fun in a tent just got at little more strenuous with each passing year. Sand, mosquitoes, dirt, rain? You can have it. Maybe that’s why the apostle Paul (himself a part-time tentmaker), likened living in these bodies of ours to living in a tent. After all, a tent is only temporary. We can only take it for so long. And with each passing year, we find living in these bodies of ours – like tents – becomes more strenuous than the year before. Aren’t you glad we won’t always be “groaning and burdened” with these patchwork canvas homes of ours, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5?

You know, when I think about tents, thinking along these lines, Steve Coyle’s story always comes to mind. Let me tell you about him. Fit and strong, Steve swam for an hour each morning. One day, though,  a diving accident badly bruised his spinal column. He recovered from that, but just three months later had another accident which left him a quadriplegic. Even so, Steve never complained about his disability. He always managed to work in some words of praise to the Lord in all his conversation. I wish the story got better from there, but the truth is, Steve then developed cancer, and after losing over eighty pounds, he went home to be with the Lord. Oh, how he must have grown weary of his tent! Shortly before he died, Steve wanted to record some of his thoughts in verse. He entrusted these lines to a nurse friend. He wrote:

“When I looked upon the days gone past, I’d thought this tent was built to last. For I’d stood it on some rocky ground where stormy winds would not beat it down. And with my pride and my own hand, I put my tent on shifting sand where pegs pulled loose and my tent did shake, but I was young and I could take the unstable world that I was in I’d just up and move again. So for many years I went this route, shifting this old tent about. Until one cold day when my mind grew clear, this tent had an end and it might draw near. So with much fear (such a heavy load) I looked for the One who made this abode. Yes, the Tentmaker, He’d surely know where one such rotting tent should go to have this canvas revitalized, to have these poles and pegs re-sized. I went to Him on bended knees begging Him, ‘Oh tentmaker please! Restore this tent I thought would last, this canvas house that went so fast.’ He looked at me through loving eyes and merely pointed to the skies. ‘Please don’t grieve over some old tent, old canvas walls that have been spent. For this mansion that’s been built by Me will last you for eternity.’”

Having written all that down, Steve Coyle gladly broke camp and moved on. So today, take some time to ponder the comforts of your eternal home—waiting for you as soon as you set aside this temporary tent. Oh and hey, if you would like this poem by Steve Coyle called “This Old Tent”, then visit joniandfriends.org because we have it there for you as a clickable download or you can just read it for yourself there on the transcript at joniandfriends.org.

© Joni and Friends

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