Thursday, September 9, 2010

Where To Set Up Camp?

Here in these United States we are people of place. Contained in our lives is a strong desire to find place, physical or otherwise to set up camp and reside. Not always a physical address but a state of existence. We like to reside in the same thought patterns, behaviors and activities. Even when these situations do not produce what we think they should, or what they once produced we do not like to find a new place to set up camp. This is the struggle of our life with God, not simply day to day living in America.

As I though about this the last couple of days I was able to verbalize it like this, we cannot live or camp in the past because it is gone. We cannot live or camp in the future because it is not yet here. However, we cannot live or camp where we are at because this passing moment becomes the past as quickly as it was the future. So, where do we set up camp? In this question we find the tragedy of the Old Testament Temple. Long before there was a temple, before Israel had a king, before the promise was ceased, the people of God followed encamping as they went. Where God lead them they followed for the most part. Along the way there was grumbling and rebellion which resulted in correction and teaching. The people knew they could remember what was, but could not live there, and they had not yet taken a hold of the promise of the future. Further they knew the place they were at was only temporary even if they liked the place.

The day comes when the people begin to settle in the promise land. Settle they did and from there the struggle of following God intensified. Many had gotten to the place they had wanted to be and wanted to stay there until they died. This went way beyond geography. Once in the promise land the relationship between God and the people of God was characterized by a growing staleness. This caused the people to look around to other nations and people for guidance than to God. Soon the cry for an earthly king went before God. Even with God warning them of the consequences they moved in that direction. From there David, the earthly king, wanted to build a residence of God on earth. At the outset God seems to be against the idea, and likes the idea of being a transient God who is free to move and invite the people to move. Yet the human drive kicks in and the Temple is build. All along the way people begin to move from camp to permanent structure in dwelling and thought.

What if we are intended to be people who live from encampment to encampment? What if the love of God is so great that we are constantly understanding God in different and news ways? Not that God is changing, rather that we are changing. Where we camped yesterday is part of our history and therefore it matters, yet we cannot camp there again. Tomorrow holds the promise of heaven, and therefore it matters, yet we are not there yet. Today is the gift of God, and therefore it matters, yet today will soon become yesterday. So where do we camp? The simple answer is where God is. Realizing this is harder to accomplish in reality it is still the truth. We must live in such a way that we are camped where God is at this moment and when God says its time to move, we break camp and follow.