Saturday, October 17, 2009

Sunday Lectionary Devotions: Psalm 104 Pitching Tents


Psalm 104:2 He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent. (NIV)

I learned how to pitch a tent with my Scout troop at a camp in Scotland called Auchengillan. Our scout patrol was full of tenderfoots like myself who knew practically nothing about camping, but we watched the older scouts put up their tents and tried to copy them.

The tents were nothing like the light nylon ones that we have today. They were made of old heavy canvas and we used thick ropes with wooden spars to set them up. It took most of the morning to construct the tent, but once it was up, our rookie patrol was thrilled. The older scouts, however, were not impressed and later that night we discovered why.

Firstly, we had chosen the roughest piece of ground to pitch the tent. This meant that no matter where we positioned our sleeping bags, the hard contours of the ground dug deeply and painfully into our backs. Secondly, it began to rain in the middle of the night, causing the canvas and ropes to shrink. Eventually, our tent collapsed, so we had to re-pitch it during the darkest, coldest and wettest part of the night. By the time morning came, we were absolutely worn out.

After breakfast, the older scouts helped us re-pitch our tent properly. They found smoother ground and showed us how to storm-rig the ropes. When it rained the following night, we didn’t even notice. Our patrol was sound asleep because our tent was comfortable and secure.

I like the old passages about tents in the Bible. They remind me that the people of God were once nomads, wandering the wilderness and camping in different places. But no matter where they went, they believed that they were secure under the canopy that God had pitched in the sky. I guess their simplistic view of the world was not scientific, but it did offer them comfort and strength, faith and hope that God was watching over them.

Perhaps God doesn’t pitch His tent in the sky any longer, but He does place His presence in our hearts and minds. And whatever the rough passages in our lives or the storms that we endure, His promises keep us secure and His love continues to strengthen our spirits.

Prayer: Lord God, build Your tent in our hearts and pitch Your canopy in our spirits. Grant us sufficient strength for our daily tasks, and restful sleep during the night. May we always know of Your abiding love and holy presence each moment of our days. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. Amen.



John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. He writes the Presbyterian devotional blog “Heaven’s Highway.”


Today's image is taken from John's Fall Series Drawings, which are on exhibit in Knoxville. It is called "Autumn Wall"

1 comment:

Ron said...

How I remember having your experience of those heavy canvas tents. The rain coming down and tents collapsing. When I chose to create my website http://www.campingandhikingtents.com the thought came to me about how in those early biblical times Camping Tents was a way of life. I enjoyed the words you have written. Thanks