When I’ve prayed, I’ve been recently presented with an image of a tent. It appears randomly seemingly unconnected to the rest of the things I’ve been asking God about. So this weekend on a camping trip with some friends, I was looking out for what camping is about.
The first thing seemed to be about getting the right equipment, so having a tent and a sleeping bag, are kind of important.
Secondly you need to work out how to put the tent up and keep it up, so that you stay warm and dry all night.
Thirdly you need some good company to enjoy the experience with, my intrepid friends and our kids had a fantastic meal together followed by a glorious yellow sunset and lots of singing curlews.
Fourthly you are open to the elements, not just the wind and rain, but the neighbours. Ours were out to party and went to bed about 5am. Along with the dawn chorus and lots of toilet trips, so we didn’t get much sleep.
Fifth you are doing without home comforts- that’s kind of the point, so the little things really matter. Nice chilled glass of white wine, posh chocs on Saturday night, and the best muesli I’d ever eaten when we had our breakfast outside the tent, as we’d been awake since the early hours and I was starving!
So I think my life going forwards is likely to involve some more of – building new homes, building new groups of friends, and living with the elements! People tell me in church terms I’m a “pioneer”, this is about building new church in the UK. If you already have a lovely church building I guess that’s already home, so building new ones, is likely to start with some camping out, and trying on for size new venues, and new neighbours.
In the Old testament, God explains to the Jews, how to build him a tent, called a tabernacle, which has huge symbolism and opulence for the Jews, but wasn’t an actual building, more of a movable palace.
Exodus 25 v8 “have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. 9 Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.”
Overall though camping was at times a real hassle, and I could have happily killed said curlews and/or neighbours in no particular order, and will definitely be taking pull-ups next time, and needed more blankets, I came home from camping, feeling energised and full of fresh air and happy memories, and slept like a baby on Sunday night!