handing out tent poles and starting bonfires

Today, I’ve been imagining people entering a place of worship with large, sagging blankets draped over their heads.

I know.  Pray for me.

Pray for me, though, as you follow me in this little metaphorical adventure.

(Tonight, and several nights recently, I’ve entered my home to find piles of little moving blankets just inside the front door, with all kinds of strange noises issuing forth from under them.  This is a pleasant way to have your patience tried when you’re just home from another blah day and your hands are full of heavy things, and Ayda just wants you to hold her, too.)

Imagine growing up and learning to cover up (yes, like I posted about Ayda) with one patch of a quilt at a time.  We start handing kids quilt patches every time they sport something that embarasses or inconveniences us.

“Here, kid, stop acting like such an idiot!  Here’s your patch.”

It’s cute for kids.  “Ahhh, isn’t that cute, she has a little blankie.  Ahhh.”

Then, as we grow up, we sew the quilt patches together – it’s just more convenient.  Giant squares of learned vanity and superficiality.  Some of us are far better at quilt-making.  Some of us have very attractive quilts.  Some of us have given over caring to futility.

Heck, by the time you’re my age, your quilt is hanging over your head and dragging all around you, with the corners and ends stained with forensic evidence of everywhere you’ve ever been – adding to the stigma.

We seldom stick our heads out from under the darned things – it’s bright and cold out there.  Ewww. 

People get more used to seeing the shrouded look and we seldom show our faces.  We just don’t know how, much less why we’d bother – and everybody’s doing it, anyway.  The air under there is stale, moist, stagnant and causing our skin to become pale and clammy.

So, we enter our selected worship facilities each weekend, sporting our fashionable bondage blankets like so many ghosts of Christmas future, all hunched over from the weight of it and hoping no one notices the most recent additions.

Okay, pause the metaphor for a second.

We need freedom to worship.  We need to be free to respond to Christ with open hearts.  We need space.  We need to be looking for opportunities to give each other that space.  We need to exalt God, in spite of the garbage.  We need a large space.  We’ve got to thow off the junk of self-consciousness.

Okay, back to the metaphor:  We need to throw off the dirty, heavy, wet, suffocating blankets of garbage, at the very least when we enter the courts of the King, for crying out loud.

Somebody’s got to hand out tent poles – at least if we’re going to stay under our blankets, we could get a little room to move.

Somebody’s got to start a guilt/shame/vanity/crap-blanket bonfire.

Somebody’s got to exalt Jesus to his rightful place among us and in us and through us.

We need room, and when room is provided, when space is aplenty, we’ve got to take advantage of it.  We need to sing loud and long, we need to dance in the rain and dry off in the sunshine, and we need to worry less about who’s watching and what they think.

We need to allow our hearts to be caught up into the power and truth of Christ in our midst.

We need fewer blankets over our heads, and we need more tent poles and bonfires.  We need big-tent revivals.

What would the world be like if God’s people really gave themselves to Him, if we really believed all of that stuff he says about how we’ve been made free, and if we really lived like we mean it?

Let’s try it.  Want to?

6 thoughts on “handing out tent poles and starting bonfires”

  1. My goodness, Dale. This was a thrill to read! God has blessed you with such deep insight. Thanks for sharing your metaphors.


  2. This is really good, I like it. It’s so true. Sometimes I feel like I have a 90 pound blanket on and if I try to come out, I’m afraid I’ll see a terrifying world complete with monsters or something. The blanket is safe, but is not good. Which, if you think about it, directly conflicts with God, who is good, but not safe. I think I probably fight Him on taking that thing away more often than I realize. Occasionally, I may allow Him to make a tent. The more I think about it, the more it makes me think…that’s very challenging, Dale. Why do you keep doing that? 🙂


  3. i often wonder whether we should leave a worship gathering before we’re wholly spent: spiritually; emotionally; and, most assuredly (and maybe most importantly), physically. for me, it’s the remedy for the what-can-i-get-from-this illness.


  4. you said crap-blanket. hehe.

    and yes, i agree…we need a space to worship in freedom. a house where we can run and play…sing and dance. i think there is a song that goes something like that…


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