Abraham Lived in a Tent

Abraham was 75 years when God called him to uproot his life and travel abroad.

That's not the normal way most of our lives work.

Most of us have this tendency to crave a sense of stability and permanence, and the security that comes with laying down roots.  Often, long before we grow old, we tend to become firmly grounded in the place where we will spend the rest of our lives.  And, by the time we reach Abraham's age, we start to realize we are driving the last car we will ever drive, and that we are living in the last home we will ever own.

"This is it," we tell ourselves.

As it turned out, Haran wouldn't become Abraham's final resting place, like he probably thought it would be.  Hearing the call of God on his life, he took his family and started out on a journey.  And for the rest of his life, Abraham remained on the go.

Abraham didn't know where God was going to take him.  And he didn't question it.  He just knew that God was the cause of his going, and that God wanted to show him something.  So he got up and went, just to see what God wanted to show him.

Abraham would never settle down.  His "on-the-go" lifestyle caused him to live out the rest of his days in a tent.  He would never again live in a home with a foundation firmly attached to this world.  If Abraham's story were to play out in the 21st century, he would've lived the rest of his days out driving a Winnebago, and bouncing from one RV campground to the next.  His mailing address would've always been a P.O. Box.

There is something in Abraham's story that I think we need to identify with and incorporate into our own lives.  After all, in Hebrews 11, Abraham's journey of faith is held up to us as a model for what it means to be a Christian.

Abraham's faith journey never allowed him to lay down roots in this world.  His life was always in transition.  He never tried to cling on to anything that had the illusion of permanence.  Wherever Abraham went, he was always living his life as one just passing through.

Though God had made great promises to Abraham that he and his heirs would eventually inherent a controversial piece of real estate in the Middle East, Abraham refused to ever lay so much as one brick upon another in order to stake his claim to the land, and to execute his authority as a lien holder.

Instead, we are told in Hebrews that Abraham "was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God." (Hebrews 11:10)  That's not to say that Abraham was looking for some distantly ghostly heavenly home, like we sing about in strange Christian hymnals, that had no physical and geographical embodiment in this world.

Rather, the author of Hebrews is telling us that Abraham knew that his inheritance of the land and his final and permanent settling into it would only be the result of God acting on his behalf, to provide everlasting, permanent, and eternal dwellings.  Abraham would have a city one day, but it would only be a city that God Himself built.  And dying without receiving anything permanent in this world, we are told Abraham ultimately "welcomed" these things from a distance.  That is, Abraham knew God wouldn't deliver what God had promised in his lifetime, but he knew God would deliver what God had promised in the ages to come.

The land Abraham was promised still exists.  And since promised that land, its occupancy has dramatically varied from one century to the next.   Some of his children try to claim it today as their own homeland.  But this is not even something Abraham attempted to do in his own lifetime.

Instead, Abraham ultimately knew that he would only rightfully receive that land as an everlasting possession when God Himself intervened on his behalf.  Abraham knew until that moment happened (and it will happen in the resurrection of the dead at the return of Christ), Abraham simply waited, blissfully detached from anything permanent in this world, ultimately looking unto God as the One he would cling to.  For he knew it was ultimately only in God that he could have something everlasting.

As Christians, we need to be of the same mindset of Abraham.  No matter where we are in our lives and no matter where we live, we need to live with a blessed sense of detachment.  Even if we live in homes whose foundations are cemented into the ground, we ought to think of ourselves as a people who are ready to get up and go, whenever God calls us and wants to take us somewhere else.  We ought to be of the mindset of Abraham, and Abraham was a man who spent the final years of his life living out of a tent.

Imaging if you were living in a tent like Abraham did.  How would that impact your family relationships? How would that impact your career?  How would that impact the possessions you held?  How would that impact your short and long term goals?  How would that impact your nationalistic identity?  To which nation would you swear allegiance and identify with?

My guess is there would be a great disruption to all of the above.  Such might make it hard to be all American.

As Christians who ultimately look for the return of Jesus Christ, and realize that the things of this world are ultimately destined to perish, we must ultimately think about how we are to relate to all of these things in our lives.   We need to be careful to guard against a mindset that would ever cause us to look at anything in our lives with a sense of permanence.  There is a lot of baggage that comes with such a mindset.  And such a mindset has a way of weighing us down in ways that are emotionally and spiritually unhealthy and even destructive.

We need to think of ourselves as Abraham thought about himself, as a people who are living out of a pop-up tent, and ultimately, just backpacking through this world. We must ultimately stand ready, always waiting to respond to God's calling on our lives.  We must always be looking forward to the future, and what God is ultimately going to do in this world.