The last two weeks have brought with them two events that traditionally have meant significant changes in our lives. The first is the transition from Standard to Daylight Saving Time. I have generally made light of this saying that in the spring I lose an hour’s sleep that I won’t get back until November.
The second event is the vernal equinox, the first day of spring. With the official coming of spring, the traditional thinking, at least in Southern Ohio, has no doubt moved quickly into an attitude of summer thinking and activity. When we lived in Southern Ohio, these changes meant that I could play golf again, after a winter’s layoff that showed as I tried to hit the ball smoothly my first time out. It also brings with it the tradition known as March Madness. This year does not have quite the excitement for me since the Ohio State Buckeyes are sitting this one out.
Two other constants that come with the season are the preparation of tax returns and the anticipation of mowing the lawn all summer long.
One author, Paul David Tripp, in “Forever: Why You Can’t Live Without It”, points out that some activities, indeed for him it is wilderness camping, have an unexpected anticipation of better and greater things built right into the very event. He states that the Bible says that the impermanence of life on earth is like dwelling in tents.
Tripp wrote: “Most of us have no pilgrim experience, so perhaps the closest thing in our experience to the journey of a pilgrim is rustic camping. I am persuaded that the whole purpose of camping is to make a person long for home. On that first day in the woods, putting up the tent is exciting, but three days later your tent has unpleasant odors you can’t explain. You love the taste of food cooked over an open flame (that’s ash!), but three days later you are tired of foraging for wood and irritated by how fast it burns. You were excited at the prospect of catching your dinner from the stream running past your campsite, which is reported to be teeming with trout, but all you have snagged are the roots on the bottom. You’re now four days in and your back hurts, there seems to be no more felled wood to forage, and you’re tired of keeping the fire going anyway. You look into what was once an ice-and-food-filled cooler to see the family-sized steaks you have reserved floating gray and oozing in a pool of blood-stained water. Suddenly, you begin to think fondly of home… You stand there hoping that someone will break the silence and say, ‘Why don’t we go home?’ Your four days in the wilderness have accomplished their mission. They have prepared you to appreciate home!”
Having experienced the joys of wilderness camping and hiking down (and up!) those long and narrow root- and rock-infested trails, I can indeed vouch for the truthfulness of Tripp’s comments.
In talking with a friend, now retired, who regularly made around-the-world trips for his company during his working years, he made the comment about how nice it was to visit other countries, but he said, “After you’ve been staying in hotels, living out of a suitcase, and eating in restaurants for weeks on end, there absolutely is no place like home!” Tripp added: “Our world isn’t a very good amusement park. No, it’s a broken place groaning for redemption. Here is meant to make us long for forever. Here is meant to prepare us for eternity.”
In anticipation of the Easter season, that is one of the great benefits of having a Savior who has been raised from the dead. We are told in the Scriptures that because Christ was raised from the dead, those who trust Him and follow Him can be guaranteed that indeed they too will be raised from the dead. This resurrection hope is one of the primary benefits of the Easter event! (Check out Romans 8:11 and 1 Corinthians 15:12-14)
As I recall from my own camping and hiking experiences, there is no place like home. The joys of walking through the beautiful manifestations of God’s creative handiwork, the hardships of working through the individual problems and obstacles faced in doing so, and the willingness to wait upon others in the process — all of these pale in comparison with the fact that soon we will be back home.
My friends, what this life has to offer is like a stale-smelling tent after three days of camping in comparison with the warmth and the comfort of heaven. Easter is the celebration that, for those who follow Christ, we do not have to stay in those tents forever. Instead, we can go home!
Come quickly, Lord Jesus!
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor who now resides in Florida. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.