Enlarge the Place of Your Tent!

“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left” (Isaiah 54:2-3a ESV).

Are you a timid Christian?

Perhaps you are a Type A personality in every area of your life, but for whatever reason you don’t approach your faith life with the same gusto. Maybe you are intimidated by the greatness and majesty of God.

Or, it could be that you are hiding behind a facade of humility, under the illusion that God wants you to always be quiet and never rock the spiritual boat of your life.

I’ve got news for you. When life brings you storms, your boat will rock whether you want it to or not. And you will be faced with the choice of cowering below deck waiting to die, or exercising spiritual muscle, doing whatever it takes to ensure that your boat will not capsize.

Don’t get me wrong. You can be totally at peace and completely unharried while the hurricane wails all around you. You don’t have to be loud or frenzied to have rock-solid faith! In fact, there is tremendous peace to be found in a mature and growing faith.

Enlarge the Place of Your Tent!

The words of the prophet Isaiah seem a bit strange. The Lord speaks through him with the command, “You need a bigger tent!” We respond, “But God, it’s just “little ol’ me; why do I need a bigger tent?”

It reminds me of the time Elisha’s servant ran in with fear and told Elisha that the city was surrounded by an army (2 Kings 6:15-23). Elisha was unperturbed and said, “those who are with us are more than those with them.” He prayed that God would open his servant’s eyes to see what Elisha already saw by faith; and when God did, Elisha’s servant saw horses and chariots of fire all over the mountain, an angel army!

God doesn’t want us to respond like Elisha’s servant, fearful and nonplussed. He wants us to respond like Elisha, believing in the unseen and acting in faith!

So when God says, “You need a bigger tent!”, we should take that to mean that when we are faithful to make room, He will be faithful to fill it!

Lengthen Your Cords and Strengthen Your Stakes

When your tent is small, you don’t need long cords or very strong stakes. The winds don’t have much to grab hold of. But the bigger the tent, the greater the need for longer cords and stronger stakes as increased surface area makes it easier for the wind to catch.

Longer cords allow for more stretch, minimizing the wind’s effect. And stronger stakes are not easily removed, providing solid holds for the cords.

So, what does all of this mean for us spiritually?

There is something to be said about contentment. In fact, Paul tells us, “…I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need” (Philippians 4:11-12 ESV).

But we need to recognize that Paul is speaking of situational contentment and not spiritual contentment. Nowhere in scripture does God ever imply that we can reach a place where we feel like we have enough Jesus to get us through until Heaven! We should never accept Hell’s suggestion that we have “arrived” spiritually. There is always ground for us to take in our battle against sin. And as we take that ground, we need to enlarge our tents so that we can take possession of more of what God has for us spiritually. (I don’t for a moments suggest that as we grow spiritually we will also grow financially).

As I mentioned earlier, if we simply pitch a larger tent, it will catch more wind and be unstable. We need to lengthen our cords.

As I see it, we lengthen our cords by learning from our life experiences (and the life experiences of others!).

I once heard a story about someone who had purchased some wooded property, and cleared a spot in which to build a house. Within this area he preserved a few large trees to have within his yard.

His house was built and he and his family moved in. A short time later a storm moved through. It wasn’t a particularly severe storm, but the man awoke to find that the stately trees had all fallen in the storm.

While the trees had grown large and beautiful within the forest, they had never really been exposed to wind, having been protected by the surrounding trees. So when the winds came the trees had never “learned” to bend and stretch.

You see, the winds and storms of life teach us to stretch ourselves. Our faith grows most and strongest when we face the storms in our lives. Being constantly sheltered only leads to weak and immature faith.

In addition to lengthening to cords of our faith, we need to strengthen our stakes. I believe we do this by studying, learning, internalizing and actualizing the Word of God in our lives. Maturity!

“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV).

Maturity takes work. We can’t get by with a greater number of  little stakes holding our tents. They must be bigger and driven deeper into the soil of our lives.

Paul said, “Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28 ESV).

One piece of the puzzle is never enough. We can’t be all that God wants us to be without all three.

“Enlarge the place of your tent, and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; do not hold back; lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left” (Isaiah 54:2-3a ESV).

 

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