Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tent of Refuge

I remember the trip like it was yesterday. Our family packed up the tent in the station wagon, along with the Coleman lantern and stove, and headed out for Red River, New Mexico. I don’t know how my dad convinced my mom to travel 800 miles with four boys to spend a week in a tent by the river, but he always was a good salesman. We set up camp at the June Bug campground, and I will never forget jumping into the freezing cold river with my brothers, hiking to the top of the mountain that overlooked our campsite, and watching my dad set the kerosene lantern on fire! But more than anything, I remember the tent!

It was huge! It took two to carry, four to set it up and could sleep up to 12 adults. There must have been a thousand aluminum poles and dozens of flaps, zippers, awnings and ropes. Once it was finally erected it served as our home away from home for a few nights in August of 1974. Our tent was a place of refuge from the mountain creatures that foraged through campsites at night and a shelter from the cold rain and mountain sleet that pelted us in the afternoon. Our tent was a place of comfort and safety for the family as we slept in our warm sleeping bags. I love to reflect on the good times we had at June Bug campground, but today I find myself thinking more about another tent. A tent of refuge - not from the rain and sleet, but from the trials of this present age.

Throughout the Old Testament we read of travelers crossing the deserts on wagons and atop camel’s backs. Each night tent cities would be set up to shelter the travelers from the desert sand blown by the wind. The tents were not only shelter for sleeping, but a place of worship. In the book of Exodus we read that “…Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, far off from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting.” (Exodus 33:7)

Whether for shelter or spiritual worship the tents in the desert were a place of refuge for the Old Testament travelers, but an amazing thing happened when we turn from the pages of the Old Testament to the New Testament. Travelers still made their home in tents, but the tent that Moses and the Levitical priests set up as spiritual tabernacles were replaced by a new and better tent.

With the advent of Jesus Christ came a new place of refuge to escape the storms of life. A new tent that offered safety and comfort from the winds of despair, depravity and destruction that blows through our lives. A tent filled not with man’s riches, worldly sacrifices or earthly priests but with the power and presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mankind destroyed the earthly tents of meeting, but no power on earth can destroy the ultimate tent of refuge for a world in need of a Savior. The new tent was not made with human hands, but was God incarnate, Jesus Christ.

Like the refugees that run to the tent cities of Haiti to find shelter, we must look to the tent city of Jesus Christ to find shelter from our sin and sorrow. The Word of God says that “…we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us and we have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf….” (Hebrews 7:19-20)

Are you in the midst of the storms of life? Have you been running to shelters that do not bring hope and true comfort to your heart and soul? Jesus Christ is the shelter that never fails as a place of refuge. He is the anchor of the soul for all who enter into His holy, eternal tent of refuge. Entrance is granted to all those who, by faith, repent of their sins and place their whole trust in Christ alone, for He is the only hope for this life and the life to come.

When I was a boy my dad taught me how to set up a tent to protect from the rain, wind and sleet that was sure to come in the mountains of New Mexico. Fortunately, he and my mom also taught me to run to the shelter of Jesus Christ who is my protector, deliverer and tent of hope for this life and life eternal. I invite you to run to the tent of Jesus Christ today and find your shelter and comfort in Him.