Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings! (Psalm 61:4)
I’m not much into camping, but every opportunity my daughter gets she is off camping somewhere in our beautiful country. She loves the beauty of God’s creation and, being an avid photographer, she has captured some stunning photos of God’s creation. I have used many of her landscape photo’s in my blog posts. This blog is written from the perspective of what I have learnt and appreciated from her journey. She is one of those enthusiasts for whom camping represents the ultimate getaway. She prefers to “camp”.
But, no matter our preference for actual camping, would we like to camp out with God?
A more literal translation of Psalm 61:4 mentioned above would read, “Let me dwell in your tent forever.” God’s tent is the place we usually call the tabernacle. David, in wanting to live in God’s tent, was not envisioning a literal campout, rather, the tabernacle was the place of God’s special presence. To live in this tent would be to live in God’s presence, to be close to God both now and forever.
When I read Psalm 61:4 and pray, “Let me live forever in your sanctuary,” I am not asking to live in God’s presence in a general way. Rather, for me it is the reminder that I live in God’s presence through Jesus Christ. We each can make made the decision to be in the presence of the Lord for ever. When we put our faith in him, when we live each day in communion with his Spirit, then, in a very real but symbolic sense, we are camping out with God. And there aren’t even any mosquitoes.
The beauty of our relationship with God is that we each have the opportunity to camp out with God. We have been invited into God’s special tent. But in our case, the tent of God is not Israel’s tabernacle. In John 1:14, we read that the Word of God “became human and made his home among us.” The original Greek of this verse says that the Word “became flesh and pitched his tent among us.” Whereas, God once “camped out” among his people in the tabernacle, now God has “camped out” among us in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.
Jesus breaks into our world ‘pitching his tent’ within the human story and by this reveals God’s love and desire for a loving, meaningful relationship with humanity.
The priest would go into meet with God, yet they had to be ceremonially clean in every way to enter God’s presence. Jesus turned this upside down, because He takes on flesh and pitches His tent in the middle of our backyard.
Why would God do this? Intimacy. Plain and simple. He wants to live among us and in us and through us.
God wants proximity. He is after intimacy. The God who made us wants to be near us and be known by us. Even living in Jesus wasn’t close enough for Him. He wanted to be in each of us. God has taken up residence in us now by his Spirit. We are the new tabernacle. Our heart is the holy of holies.
I think that pitching a tent with us implies that God wants to be on familiar terms with us. He wants to be close. He wants a lot of interaction. If you come into a community and build a huge palace with a wall around it, it says one thing about your desires to be with the people. But if you pitch a tent in my backyard, you will probably use my bathroom and eat often at my table. This is why God became human. He came to pitch a tent in our human backyard so that we would have a lot of dealings with him.
As I reflect on dwelling in God’s presence, the following comes to my mind. Immediately I am thankful for the privilege of “camping out” with my gracious and loving God. There is a deep hunger and thirst that I may dwell with the Lord every moment of each day. That I may be continually attentive to Him, offering myself to Him in all things.
When we are dwelling in God’s presence and resting in His arms of shelter, we will know His extreme love for us. In knowing that love, we will feel His comfort and peace that no one in this world can fully understand.
Our God is the God of intimacy – the God of love – the God who yearns for his people – the God who will stop at nothing until he reclaims his own. It might be time to go “camping.”