Growing up, I was an Eagle Scout, and my favorite part of being a scout was to go camping and to pitch my tent in all kinds of places. I enjoyed the sights and smells of the great outdoors and found peace and joy in nature. Whether it was the ﬁnger lakes of New York, the mountains of New Mexico, or the beautiful Appalachian Trail, I loved it all. I learned how to put up a tent quickly and efﬁciently, and then how to take it down. The tents my scout troop used were a bright red in color and barnlike in shape. You could ﬁt two full-sized cots inside, and you could stand up straight inside of their large metal frame scaffolding. Our tents were more eye-catching than those of a lot of other scouts—not the typical boring pup tent. They were roomy and comfortable, and they did a good job of protecting us from the elements. And they looked cool—at least as cool as a tent can look! At times we weathered some pretty severe storms in our tents—storms that would tend to make a normal pup tent collapse in a heap.
When I was 13 years old, my troop attended the National Boy Scout Jamboree. Scouts from all over the country came to Fort A.P. Hill in Virginia and set up their tents, which seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see. There were few buildings in sight on the giant ﬁeld where we pitched camp. This event was the “Super Bowl” of scouting—a week-long opportunity to hone our skills and meet scouts from various parts of the United States.
One evening, as we relaxed around our tents, a sudden summer storm blew through with such intensity that it whipped up a sort of whirlwind, which tore through the camp, pelting us with severe wind, heavy rain, and thundering clouds. By morning, the sturdy red tents of my troop were just about the only ones left standing!
But even our tents, built to withstand the punishments of weather and the decaying effect of time, eventually became less dependable. I doubt that any of those incredibly durable barn tents are still in commission today. These tents are like our bodies. Mine outlasted Wynter’s, and yours may outlast mine, but none of our bodies are going to last forever. Eventually, the storm of death is going to make them only a memory.
The good news is that you are not just your body. Your soul resides in the tent of your body, and that soul is meant to last forever. Your soul is traveling through time, and it just happens to be housed in your body for now. The apostle Paul, himself a tentmaker by occupation, knew something about where the real you and the real me resides, and the future that lies before us when we ﬁnally shed our own “tents”: “We are conﬁdent, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
No matter how much I loved spending time in a tent as a scout, when the trip was over, I was ready to come home and sleep in the comfort of my bed at home. You and I are not meant to live in these “tents” forever; we look forward to our home in heaven—a place where we will be with the Lord forever.
I know Wynter is home now. The moment she left this earth, Wynter went to be with Jesus. She was relocated to the very presence of God. I miss her terribly, and I think of her every day, but I know she is well, and she is with Him. One day, I will join her there.
You might be tempted to think that none of this is really relevant to you right now, and you might put off thinking about your eternal home until you are older and closer to your own day of reckoning. Wynter and I never imagined that the storm of death would blow through our lives and take her at such an early age. There are no guarantees in this life. I’ve learned that keeping the possibility of death in front of you is a good way to keep yourself focused on the things beyond this life.
You and I are both traveling from our temporary home to a ﬁnal destination, and God wants to be your companion on that journey. And if He is your companion, it means that you can be at home, right now, wherever you are. Whatever storms blow through your life, you can be assured that He is there with you. You’ve probably heard the saying, “The journey is the destination.” When you are walking with God, you can find peace and comfort and purpose right now. In 2 Corinthians 5:9, Paul continues: “So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it.” As my good friend Rebekah Lyons wrote in her book You Are Free, “Home is wherever God is and God is ever with me.” That is a comforting thought as we journey through life. Even if our temporary tent gets the worst of it through the blustering tempests, we are at home with Him, even now.
God is in heaven, yes. Therefore, heaven is home. But God can be with you and me right now.
Moses, certainly a man who knew what it meant to travel, one who lived in tents and was well acquainted with the trials of a long and arduous journey, wrote these words in a psalm which most scholars believe came from his hand: “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, ‘My refuge and my fortress, my God in Whom I trust’” (Psalm 91:1-2 ESV). And, as the apostle Paul reminds us, God doesn’t just dwell with us; He dwells in us. He prays, “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:16-17 NKJV, italics added).
This is one of most important things that has been conﬁrmed in my heart through the whole experience of losing Wynter. I hope, through my stories, to share the comfort and peace I have found in the midst of grieving. I’m conﬁdent that you’ll be reminded that God is our true home. He has the power to help you through any hardship, loss, pain, or difﬁculty, just as He has done for me. He will be your shelter—your home—through every step of the way.
Jonathan Pitts shares his heart with James and Betty this Thursday on LIFE TODAY. Excerpted with permission from My Wynter Season by Jonathan Pitts, published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Oregon, 97408. Copyright 2021, Jonathan Pitts. www.harvesthousepublishers.com