Camping isn't my favorite hobby. I enjoy biking, painting, and writing poetry, but I'll pass on living in a tent.
I’ve been camping before, and within a few hours of arriving at the site, I begin to get pessimistic. I look around and see all the potential problems that will arise over the next few days, and I start to rank the conveniences that I’ll miss the most. I can’t wait to get back home.
Camping and Christianity
As much as I avoid camping, I think the illustration can remind us of a few important things in the Christian life:
Camping may have some perks, but you couldn't persuade me that it's more comfortable than living at home; your indoor residence provides better amenities than any campsite could. In the same way, our world is filled with wonderful creation, but it can’t be compared to the future home we have coming. Today's campsite is a simply a preparation for that final destination.
But here's the problem - we try to transform our campsite into a resort. There's actually new trend in outdoor vacationing called glamping. It stands for “glamorous camping” and it’s really just camping for cheaters. The attraction of glamping is that you take all the luxuries of an indoor home and bring them with you to the campsite. Doesn't that defeat the purpose?
Spiritually, you and I are like that. We forget that a better home is coming, so we try to cram all the luxuries of life into the here and now. We pursue a pleasurable and predictable life instead of pouring out our energy for the work of God’s kingdom. What a missed opportunity!
As a pessimistic camper, I know that camping comes with many trials. Repelling insects, keeping food fresh, and staying dry are all hassles, but they disappear when we return home. In the same way, living on earth is difficult. Disease, natural disasters, and of course, the sin of other human beings will plague our existence. But once we move to Heaven, "we shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike us…" (Revelation 7:16)
If we have a better home coming, why does God leave us on the campsite? Peter tells us: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)
Camping is like that ‘little while’ – we’re grieved by various trials, but for the praise and glory and honor of Jesus (v. 7) and for the salvation of our soul (v. 9). You see, unlike us, God is after more than just our most comfortable life now; He's after the redemption of our souls. In the big scheme of life, your trial will only last for a little while, and it results in glorious and beautiful things. Maybe the trial you’re facing now is actually the most loving thing God could do for you.
The more time I spend on a campsite, the more I long for and appreciate the comforts of my own home. After sleeping in a plastic bag on the wet ground and not bathing for three days, I eagerly anticipate a soft mattress, a house powered by electricity, and a hot shower! Similarly, the more time you spend in a broken world, the more you should begin to anticipate eternity.
You can’t be a functioning Christian and be unmoved by the suffering and brokenness of this world. It should grieve you to your soul and you should cry out for it to end. Pray with vigor for the Lord to stop the suffering while working with vigor to be part of the solution. Do both with confidence, knowing that the Lord is coming back and all the pain will one day end.
We all know the phrase, “he’s not a happy camper,” but could it be that we’re actually too happy of a camper? I know for myself that I wake up many mornings and am only concerned about my comfort. I don’t want any trial to get in the way, and I’m often too satisfied with my life to anticipate the coming of Christ.
By God’s grace, I’m being rescued from myself. Even after 40 years in ministry, I’m still learning to put God’s kingdom above my comfort. I’m still learning to embrace the lessons God is teaching me through trial, and I’m still learning to grieve like the Lord while anticipating His return.
Will you learn with me?