This Old Tent

  • April 13, 2018
  • #9380

Our weak and worn out bodies will one day be raised imperishable, and we will live in glory in heaven for eternity.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and you’re listening to "Joni and Friends".

It’s a place where you’ll always find lots of inspiration. As you know, I am always inspired by other people in wheelchairs — especially paraplegics or quadriplegics like me. I know how hard dealing with a disability every day can be, so I have a huge respect for other people in wheelchairs that persevere, day in and day out through the same routines, 24/7. And there seems to be one common bond between us all — those of us who suffer we long and look forward to heaven. Not as though it were an escape from a dreary life down here on earth; no, no, no, I'm talking about a longing for heaven that makes us live life better, richer and deeper down here on earth; a longing for heaven that helps us view our suffering as “preparation” for that wonderful life to come.

That is the way my paraplegic friend, Steve Coyle, has looked at life. In his wheelchair, Steve saw it as God's choicest tool to get him ready for heaven. In fact, he wrote a poem about it, called “This Old Tent.” I think he borrowed that title from the Apostle Paul who, when he wrote the Corinthians, spoke of our bodies as tents. Anyway, Steve called his poem “This Old Tent” and this is how it goes:

When I looked upon the days gone past,
I’d thought this tent was built to last.
For I’d stood it on some rocky ground
Where stormy winds couldn’t beat it down. 

And with my pride and my own hand,
I put my tent on shifting sand
Where pegs pulled loose and my tent did shake,
But I was young and I could take
The unstable world that I was in
I’d just up and move again.

So for many years I went this route,
Shifting this old tent about. 
Till one cold day when my mind grew clear,
This tent had an end and it might draw near.

So with much fear (such a heavy load)
I looked for the One who had made this abode.
Yes, the Tentmaker, He’d surely know
Where one such rotting tent should go
To have this canvas revitalized,
To have these poles and pegs re‐sized.

I went to Him on bended knees
Begging Him, “Oh tentmaker please! 
Restore this tent I thought would last,
This canvas house that went so fast.”

He looked at me through loving eyes
And merely pointed to the skies. 
“Please do not grieve over some old tent,
Old canvas walls that have been spent. 
For this mansion that’s been built by Me
Will last you for eternity.”
– Steve Coyle

Oh, my goodness me, sitting in this wheelchair, that is a poem that inspires me – especially given the fact that Steve lived most of his life in a wheelchair. By the way, you should know that my friend, Steve, went home to be with Jesus some time ago. He left his wheelchair behind as well as his old, worn-out and threadbare tent — his paralyzed tent! First Corinthians Chapter 15 says that, “The body that is sown is perishable, [but] it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.” You know, I can’t wait to see Steve when I go to heaven and together we’re going to rejoice that our paralyzed bodies were sown in weakness, but raised in glory, power, and honor. Hey, friend, I'll be posting this poem on my radio page today at joniandfriends.org and, in fact, come back next time because I have a whole week of truly inspirational poems to share with you — poetry that has really inspired and refreshed my heart over the years. So stay tuned for that here at joniandfriends.org.

*Previously aired as Program #8075 on 4/12/13.

© Joni and Friends

 

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