“The Problem with "Glamping"”
“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.”
Have you ever heard of “glamping”? The combination of the words “glamorous” and “camping” refers to a new trend of luxury camping gaining popularity among affluent millennials. According to glamping.com, “Glamping is where stunning nature meets modern luxury. It’s a way to experience the untamed and completely unique parts of the world — without having to sacrifice creature comforts.” Another site says it is “camping without any of the hassle or hard work or dirt… a bridge to the outdoors for people who, quite frankly, don’t want to rough it.”
If you are still reading this you are probably rolling your eyes at yet another pricey fad hip young people have created to keep themselves entertained. But could this annoyingly-hip (and, dare I say, embarrassingly attractive) trend contain a spiritual lesson and possible warning for us?
The Hebrew writer points out that Abraham, the prototype of the person who lives by faith in God, lived in Canaan in “tents”. Even though he lived there the rest of his life after being called from Ur (cf. Heb. 11:15, 39), he did so as if it were “a foreign land” (Heb. 11:9; Gen. 23:4). He had not gained possession of it yet so he lived a nomadic existence in Canaan by dwelling in “tents”, temporary structures characteristic of those who have no permanent settlement or claim on the land.
The word “living” literally means to “settle down” but the only “settling down” Abraham did was wandering! Why? Because he lived in view of a better, permanent dwelling to come, “a city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). Of course, the Hebrew writer is encouraging us to be like Abraham, living as strangers in this present world, exiles away from our true home (cf. 1 Pet. 2:11). Like Israel, we are journeying on our way to Canaan land (Heb. 3-4), camping all the way.
But sometimes we want our camping in the wilderness to be as nice as glampers want their camping to be. We’re willing to make the trip as long as we get to bring along all our creature comforts. Unlike Paul who longed to put on his “heavenly dwelling” in the resurrection (2 Cor. 5:1-2), we waste our lives making our tents as comfortable as possible. There was nothing glamorous about Israel’s journey in the wilderness and as we camp toward our home we should expect to “rough it”, so to speak.
I’m not suggesting we don’t enjoy the good gifts God gives us, we should (1 Tim. 4:3). Neither am I suggesting there is value in “asceticism and severity to the body”, there is not (Col. 2:23). But the more attached to the luxuries of the wilderness we are, the less fervently we will desire heaven. Afte all, Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:21).
Perhaps it’s time some of us consider “roughing it” for a change. Trying to make this wilderness-life as cozy as possible is a losing battle. The wilderness-life is not supposed to be a bed of roses. Nor is it supposed to last forever. It is a test of our faith and endurance (Deut. 8:2). As Gary Henry put it, “The less luxurious your tent, the more you’ll yearn for home.” That truth should give us a new perspective on our suffering and our living hope of the resurrection!