For several years I have been serving numerous churches in an extremely isolated region of Nicaragua. There are no roads in this region, so travel is by boat and then by foot through the jungle. There is also no electricity or running water in any of the villages. Adding to the fun for a city-loving North American like myself is that it’s typically over 90 degrees AND wearing shorts is culturally unacceptable. This means I tend to sweat buckets without any easy way to cool down. While I am often invited to stay in homes, being in someone else’s space does not afford me the luxury of wearing fewer clothes and using battery/solar-powered fans and lights. This is why I bring my tent. When I go to my tent, I can escape some of the difficulties, if even for just a few hours. While such an escape helps refuel me, I often wonder if we too often try to escape from God and the things He needs us to do. Are we hiding in our tents (our own lives) rather than living the way God wants us to?
The image of the tent is not my own but appears in several places in Scripture.
They said to him, “Where is Sarah your wife?” And he said, “She is in the tent.” The Lord said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son.” And Sarah was listening at the tent door behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years. The way of women had ceased to be with Sarah. So, Sarah laughed to herself, saying, “After I am worn out, and my lord is old, shall I have pleasure?” The Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? At the appointed time I will return to you, about this time next year, and Sarah shall have a son.” Genesis 18:9-14
Sarah was in her tent living her life. When she hears the Lord proclaim she will have a son at her age she laughs. In her mind, that’s simply impossible. See, Sarah had gotten used to living in her tent, living by the world’s expectations. The world teaches that many things are ill-advised, crazy, or impossible. I’ve had church leaders tell me their church could never grow. People tell me they would love to be missionaries, but they could never raise the needed support. Others share that they desperately want to see a loved one saved, but it’s impossible. In each case, we are being like Sarah. We are living in the tent of the world, buying into the world’s notion of things. God, however, works in a far greater manner. I’ve seen churches suddenly quadruple in size because of God’s faithfulness. I once thought we could never raise the required missionary support, only to have God annually blow my mind. I’ve seen people saved from basically every difficult situation imaginable. We need to stop living in the world’s tent of doubt and start having faith in the power of God. We need to trust both that God can use us to do big things and that God has a plan.