On the Road Again …
I saw on the news today how sales of RV’s are soaring. All over the country people want to be out and “On the road again.” (Yes, the story had the song from Willie Nelson playing as the lead in.)
Earlier this week Lois came by the church office. She had something to deliver, we wore our masks, we kept “social distance,” and afterward she headed back home. But one of the things she said rings true. “I just had to get out and see people.” The song goes, “On the road again … I just can’t wait to get on the road again.”
We are not made to “stay in place.” It is difficult and it takes effort; and we will seek to do our duty as necessary. But God created time so we could move through events and enjoy things that are new and changing. It is part of our nature.
When God called Abraham, what did He tell him to do? Leave and go to the land I will show you. (Genesis 12:1) When God called the people of Israel out of Egypt what did He do? Had them set up a “tabernacle,” a tent church so He could share the journey. And when Jesus was born how did John describe it? “The Word became flesh and “tabernacled” among us.” (John 1:14) Yes, that is the Greek word, the same one used for the Old Testament tabernacle. God created us to be “on the road again” and Jesus was born so that He could be “on the road” with us, sharing the journey, walking the roads of the holy land with the disciples, being with the people of the land, the sick, the lame, the poor, sharing the journey. Jesus was ready to share the journey, even when the way was dark and filled with suffering. He walked our road all the way to the cross and then from the empty tomb on Easter. And then Jesus was “on the road” with His disciples, the road to Emmaus, the sea shore, and out to the mountain where He ascended.
God created time so we could be “on the road again” and then came into the created world to be on the road with us. In fact, the third line of the song fits the pattern of Jesus with His disciples, “The life I love is makin’ music with my friends”. That is what Jesus called them to. And He was willing to pay a steep price in order to have them “on the road” with Him for all time, and making music “on the road” forever.
The same word, “tabernacle,” comes around again at the end of the Bible. John says, “And I heard a voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with man. He will tabernacle with them, and they will be His people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’” (Revelation 21:3) When I first learned that was the word I thought, “That’s odd. Why doesn’t it say “temple? Temple would be more permanent.” But there it is.
The big difference is that a tabernacle is movable. I wonder. Is that intentional?
Well, of course it is! The Bible is God’s Word, and He gets to influence and guide the writing of the writers.
So, does this mean that when we get to the end it will not be the end? Does it mean that our eternal dwelling with God will not be a staying still, a staying in one place forever? At that point I come to the end and limit of what I can know. God does not reveal any of the “What next?” beyond the return of Jesus. But it is intriguing. And some of the prophecies say things like, “They shall go out …”
God chose the word “tabernacle,” and did so on purpose. It is a pretty strong hint that eternal life is not going to be an endless staying in one place and doing the same thing forever. And why would it be? God created time for us so our life would not be endless sameness, but rather a wonderful passing through hours and moments of experiencing the blessings of God. There are adventures, there is going forward, and it is from glory to glory, “running” with Jesus forever.
I think it really does fit the words:
“On the road again
I just can't wait to get on the road again
The life I love is makin' music with my friends …”
Lord Jesus, lead me on. You call us to go with You, and know that there will be glory, and joy, and it will be the most amazing adventure ever. Thank You for buying back my eternity, and inviting me to be on the road with You through endless ages. Amen.
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Rev. Mark Willig
Pastor Willig is pastor emeritus of Friends in Christ Lutheran Church.