God pitches his tent among us
My son Pierce is attending Presbyterian church camp at Okoboji this week. He’s attended camp for five years now.
As I was driving back to Luverne after dropping him off, I started thinking about which Bible stories fit especially well with church camp.
I immediately thought about Jacob and the dream he had about the ladder between heaven and earth. (Read Genesis 28:10-22).
One especially notable detail in the passage is that Jacob is in the wilderness and uses a stone for a pillow. I guess you could say he was camping! When he falls asleep, he has a dream. In that dream God makes promises to him including, “Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Jacob is surprised by what he experiences and exclaims: “Surely the Lord is in this place — and I did not know it!”
The promise of God to Jacob, “I am with you,” is one of the most repeated in the Bible. Again and again, God promises never to leave us or forsake us. This is a great promise to remember whenever the challenges of life start to close in upon us.
Also, Jacob’s surprised exclamation may sometimes be ours as well — God is here, but I did not notice! As a result of God’s presence and promises, Jacob himself vows to follow God and respond with generosity.
This led me to consider the Gospels and the coming of Jesus Christ to us. The Gospel of John begins by telling us about Jesus entering our world and bringing the grace and truth of God face to face with us. (Read John 1:1-14).
John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
There is at least one paraphrase version of the Bible that puts it this way: “The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us.” The thoughts of a tent may cause us to think about camping! At any rate, God came to us in Jesus Christ. This is gift ... grace … love.
Much later on, after his death on the cross and resurrection from the tomb, the Risen Christ proclaimed, “Remember, I am with you always even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).
Like Jacob so long ago, we are recipients of the promise of God’s presence. We can confidently lean on Christ and courageously respond to the presence and promises of God with faith and confidence, ever thankful for the grace of God and God’s willingness to “pitch his tent” among us.