Whenever I get a new pair of comfy jeans or extra-soft T-shirt (my favorite outfit), I tend to wear them a few times in a row right off the bat. Even if I’m not leaving the house, I’ll grab that new shirt or pair of jeans and put them on. I may even sleep in the T-shirt if it’s still clean at the end of the day.
My husband does the opposite. He hangs his favorite shirts in the closet and reserves them for special occasions, or at least an occasion when he will see a human outside our household.
Not me. I like the way a new favorite outfit feels. I appreciate the fact that the shirt isn’t pilled and that the jeans make me feel confident. (If jeans don’t make you feel confident, don’t buy them!)
The repeated wear and washing wears out my new clothes a little more quickly than if I’d babied them. But I can’t help it. I’m drawn to their comfort.
The Opposite of Comfort
The opposite of that comfort is how it feels after working on a messy project outside in the summer. You know, those kinds of projects that you do on mission trips when you paint a house or build a meeting place, or erect a playground or skate park. Grit and grime, sweat, and general grossness cover you from head to toe. You can’t wait to shed your stinky, filthy clothes and shower off the dirt.
At the end of the project, you look at your clothes and wonder, Should I just toss them? Are they worth saving?
If you’re like me, a frugal Girl Scout of the 80s, you wash the clothes and save them for the next project. After all, you don’t want to have to wear your good clothes to work the next time you have a messy project. Those clothes aren’t good for much else, but they are perfect for hard work.
A Tent for the Soul
In 2 Corinthians 5:1-5, the Apostle Paul calls his body a tent for the soul.
Every time I read that passage, I think of the canvas tents we had at Girl Scout camp. Held up by two long poles made of either wood or aluminum, ropes, and a few stakes, they were utilitarian and tough. If you put them up correctly, they could withstand a summer downpour. If you did it wrong, It was sure to fall in on you in the middle of the night. Summer after summer, my friends and I hauled the tents out of storage, struggled to set them up—and then hoped it wouldn’t rain.
I get the imagery that Paul is going for in this passage. The tent is a dwelling place for the soul. But instead of hanging out in one of those sloppily erected summer tents, I picture wrapping that thick, heavy, rough canvas around me like a blanket that’s dirty and weather-worn. The mental image is uncomfortable, and not at all like that of putting on a soft new T-shirt and comfy pair of jeans. No wonder Paul says he can’t wait to shed his earthly body—his itchy, stiff, worn out tent—and put on his new, perfect spiritual body that will cover him in life.
He’s tired and dirty from all the hard work he’s been doing. He’s exhausted and broken from the abuse he’s endured. He’s fighting the feeling of being overwhelmed by opposition.
Do you ever feel like that?
To get his mind off his present circumstances, he paints a Holy Spirit-inspired picture of what is guaranteed for those who have chosen to put on Jesus—to wrap themselves in His love and eternal peace.
Your Soul Was Meant for More
The tent (the physical, imperfect, and increasingly worn out body) is a practical dwelling for the soul, but our souls were meant for more. And while Paul speaks of eternity, he also addresses the here and now when he writes in verse 17: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
When we choose to be in Christ, He starts the process of renewing and reviving the soul. It has already begun; it’s not something we have to wait until eternity to enjoy.
Does that mean we won’t feel chafed by daily, dirty life in our canvas tents? No. There will still be times when we feel gritty and exhausted and overwhelmed by the evil in the world and the stress of our circumstances.
But like a cozy T-shirt and comfy, confidence-building pair of jean, Jesus offers comfort to the soul right here, right now, fresh and new every day. He wraps us in assurance of His presence and reminds us of His love. He soothes our broken hearts and gives us courage to face whatever comes our way because we know we are not alone.
And unlike even your favorite outfit, Jesus never wears out. His love never fades. He isn’t a temporary tent or clothing that gets dirty or torn; He is the permanent, soul-soothing shelter for our souls.
That’s my favorite.
Meditate on These Verses
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
—2 Corinthians 5:1–5
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
—2 Corinthians 5:17
What do you do with your old project clothes? Save or toss?