From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. (Genesis 12:8)
Read: Genesis 11:1-13:4, Matthew 5:1-26, Psalm 5:1-26, Proverbs 1:24-28
Relate: I absolutely love camping. I can usually only do it once a year, and I certainly am not a fan of doing it in the middle of winter. In 2016, camping was one of the main events in my all too brief visit to NY and I got to bag one more of the Adirondack peaks. The year before I went on a walking trip from Antalya, through the Taurus Mountains, to Isparta. That 140 km was murder on my feet and my much longer planned trip was cut short thanks to a sprained ankle, but it was still definitely worth it.
Growing up there was this Christian version of Boy Scouts called Royal Rangers and I was a Ranger through and through. I loved getting out in the woods, hiking, building campfires, catching crayfish, climbing trees or waterfalls or cliffs, canoeing… you name it. Back in my junior high days, this stuff wasn’t just an occasional outing but it was my life. I say all this to show that I have pitched more than a few tents in my days so I know how flimsy or uncomfortable they can be. I remember one time at Green Lakes State Park when I was helping pitch a tent on a very windy day. We had all the poles up and were just about to nail those stakes in when one gust of wind picked that tent right up and carried it a good 5-10 feet before rolling it over. Another time at Cortland Bible Club Camp I was in a little two man tent on the side of a hill during a rainstorm. The other camper was on the uphill side and noticed that if he tapped the top of the tent the water came in and rolled down into the gathering pool that was my sleeping bag. I was a heavy sleeper and by the time I finally did wake up I thought I was drowning.
Relate: Tents, like I said, are a flimsy thing. I won’t begin to presume that Abraham’s tents were as cheap and as fragile as those I have spent many of my nights in, but neither can they be considered a true home. They are a temporary shelter. They show that the owner has no permanent dwelling here, he is only passing through. Everywhere Abraham went he did two things, the first of these is that he pitched his tent. He knew that this world had no permanent claim on him. (see Hebrews 11:13-16)
The second thing Abraham did was build an altar. An altar was a thing of stone. A thing of permanence. People could and actually did go to the places where Abraham and his children built altars to worship even hundreds of years later. Pitch a tent and build an altar. Everywhere Abraham went, he made temporary provisions for his basic needs but permanent investments in God’s glory. What about me? What about you? Are we willing to do the same or do we have it all mixed up?
Help me to make for You a permanent place in my heart. Help me to remember that this world is only temporary. I am only passing through. Don’t let me get my priorities mixed up. You are the only thing worth making an eternal investment in.