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Together

(Dear Webb Weekly Family, I have missed the last two editions due to having carpal tunnel surgery. I’m glad to be back at my keyboard and again sharing faith conversations with all of you. Much to my surprise, the world fell apart during my absence. Sorry about that. I’ll be more careful in the future.

(Dear Webb Weekly Family, I have missed the last two editions due to having carpal tunnel surgery. I’m glad to be back at my keyboard and again sharing faith conversations with all of you. Much to my surprise, the world fell apart during my absence. Sorry about that. I’ll be more careful in the future. This week’s article is not about camping, so please don’t stop reading as I lay the groundwork for the point I make at the end. These are extraordinary days — and we want to emerge with dignity, peace and hope — and most of all — together.)

As a veteran of 30 years of tent camping on Assateague Island in Maryland, I have developed a little saying — a principle really — that applies to camping in such harsh conditions. I’ll come back to that in a moment.

Assateague is a thin barrier Island that stretches for 37 miles from Ocean City, Maryland, to Chincoteague, Virginia. It is a beautiful place with clean and uncrowded beaches, wild horses, and great surf fishing — and the bay is great for clams and crabs. When the weather is good, there’s no more beautiful place on earth. For many years, it was a home-away-from-home for me and my family.

There are no shade trees on Assateague, at least not where we camp. In fact, there are no trees at all. That means there is no protection from the forces of nature that tend to be magnified at the ocean: glaring sun, endless wind, brutal thunderstorms and punishing hurricanes. In 30 years, we’ve experienced every weather possibility Assateague Island can muster. In fact, on our last trip about three years ago, Heather and I were pummeled for four straight days by tropical storm force winds and heavy rain. We finally gave up and left. Packing up camp in sustained 40 MPH winds and heavy side-ways rain is a lovely vacation memory. The next day the park service closed the island because of an approaching hurricane.

And that brings me to my principle of camping: Camping is easy when it doesn’t rain and the wind doesn’t blow.

Sometimes a camping newbie will set up their gear near us and it is obvious they don’t have a clue just how bad the weather at Assateague can get. All tents are not created equal, and it requires just one severe thunderstorm to reveal the difference. I can’t tell you how many families have sheltered in the bath house while watching a storm shred their tent and destroy all of their gear. When the storm passes, they toss most of their gear into the campground dumpster and head for home. It’s a sad sight.

Our decades of experience causes us to follow certain routines while camping. We know what the weather can do, so we make sure we’re prepared — and then some. People have sometimes made sarcastic comments about my heavy-duty ratchet straps and oversized stakes and my habit of always lowering our screen tent and roping it to the ground before going to bed. That’s okay. They can say whatever they want – when a sudden thunderstorm strikes with fury in the middle of the night, I rest easy.

Well, I wish I could. Instead, Heather and I get out of bed and start helping those who weren’t prepared. It’s what veteran campers do. When we were newbies, others came to our rescue. I guess it’s our turn to pay it forward.

Friends, we are in a major storm right now. Some of us our seasoned veterans who have weathered other storms and we have been toughened. We have made preparations for times like this and we are ready. And some of us are newbies who find ourselves caught in a storm we weren’t prepared to face. Yeah, we veterans can harp and complain about how the newbies are weak and soft — or we can get behind them and help them through — just like others did for us back in the day.

Friends, we’re all in this pandemic together — and the only way out is together. Let’s keep getting behind each other — sacrificing so everyone can emerge with dignity and hope. Three weeks ago it seemed important to be democrat or republican or Catholic or protestant or atheist or whatever. We had so much dividing us. Today, that all seems so very insignificant and trivial, doesn’t it? The coronavirus is targeting all of us — the entire world. Facing a common enemy has brought us all together and is proving again that the greatest human value of all is unity founded on selflessness and love.

In Matthew 12:25, Jesus said, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand.” I remember the months that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Everyone was united, compassionate, generous and patient. That good will slowly faded, but this storm is once again awakening our better selves. It’s time for us to lay down our political and religious bickering and moral superiority and simply love and serve each other. Friends we’re all in this together — and seriously, the only way out is together.

Jesus said…

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13

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  • Avatar
    Mike Beckman
    March 25, 2020, 8:10 pm

    Pastor Tim, it’s great to have you back at the keyboard. I’ve missed your Faith Conversations the last few weeks. It’s always my first read in every Webb Weekly. As always, another inspirational message for us all! Pray you’re well healed and fully recouped.

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  • Avatar
    Jen Wentz
    March 27, 2020, 11:08 am

    Tim,
    What a wonderful article! We love Assateague as well. It has been pretty long ago that we went there (the last time), a huge fast storm hit while we were at Ocean City eating. Came back in the dark, everything was flat. A few campers into tooth picks. Tossed a screen house into the dumpster in the morning after getting a room at a local hotel for what was left of the night.
    Have seen many storms at Assateague and in life, but isn’t that how it is, we are here to share and to have shared to us the love of God!
    (My mother lives in Montoursville, she snail mailed it to me in Beavertown. She has heard the stories)
    Peace in Christ,
    Jen

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