The Importance of Togetherness! …Good morning weekend readers. We had a camper this past week who gave me permission to share her story and I truly think it has a lesson for us all. Up here in northern New Mexico we, like our other sister states in the West, have been praying for rain and God has answered our prayers. In some cases, rain deluges have created a ton of flooding! Yet most folks are ready for that in the dusty West and truly, outside of those camping in a tent, most folks are delighted to have the rain. Our rivers and streams are flowing strongly and the trees are also clapping their “hands” as their leaves and bark soak in life-giving water.
But now the story changes as life-giving water turned into raging waters and it was the gift of “togetherness” that kept people from harm. Forest Road 151 is 15 miles in and ends at Christ of the Desert Monastery—which looks as if it was carved right out of the mountains! The wild and crazy Rio Chama River, which comes out of 14,000’ mountains, flows all through this area. It can range from a Class II to Class V River and you can imagine the fun of shooting the wild rapids (we do!).
Anne, the lady from our campground, was at an outing that included spiritual exercises and painting classes! When they saw the dark clouds rapidly gathering, they ended the day immediately and got in their vehicles and left but it wasn’t quick enough to get out of the downpour. They got 9 miles out when the skies opened up and dumped over 8 inches of rain in less than an hour! Most of the road is clay so you can imagine the mess. Several people swirled around hitting the cars next to them and nature’s havoc just continued non-stop for almost 45 minutes.
When the torrent finally let up 20 cars were mired all over the place. Half of them were from the day retreat at the Monastery, and others were tourists and campers at the Rio Chama Primative Campground. The first thing Anne told me was most of them started praying—even the Muslim couple joined in and together they beseeched the God they loved for help as well as thankfulness that they were all in one piece!
Then they got busy helping one another and pushing as many cars out of the deep muck as possible. Three folks had camping canopies and they gathered together under the shelters and shared food and drink and many conversations with one another. About an hour later Search & Rescue arrived with water and sustenance and would airlift anyone out with medical issues—thankfully there were none. The next morning Anne and 5 others walked the 9 miles to the Monastery where they were given fresh bread and coffee (with more to go back for the others) and could phone us. Anne was so worried because she had to leave the next day and we had folks coming into her spot as well. I told her not to worry, we would work that out and then asked her how we could be of assistance. She said, “keep praying—it works.” I admit I had tears in my eyes and my heart leapt with joy at her strong faith.
The next morning, they got to work pushing the 4-wheel-drive trucks back and forth over and over again until they got loose. Then each truck helped another vehicle, and so on, and Anne made it back to the campground at 2pm that afternoon! The NFS Rangers were amazed at the persistence of these folks and Anne confessed to me what she said to him: “Listen, when you band together you can storm even that gates of hell and this clay road is hell indeed.”
Anne is right. When we work together it pleases God who loves to see his children in unity. Can’t you just hear the Lord saying “you can do it, push that boulder,” and in his strength they did! We can do it, too. Sometimes it isn’t easy, but it’s definitely worth it. And all this reminded me of a retreat a long time ago where I was the worship pastor and the main speaker was teaching on “togetherness.” I found my notes on it (I keep stuff like that in my computer in my “stash” of ideas). Here was her take on “What Togetherness Is…and Is Not.”
- Togetherness is about heart, not habit
- Togetherness is about love, not location
- Togetherness is about conviction, not convenience
- Togetherness is about vulnerability, not just visual presence
- Togetherness is about forgiveness, not impressions
Scripture has several reminders for us on “togetherness” and we would do well to memorize them and put them in action in our daily lives. A few of my favorites are:
*There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed. -Acts 2:44 [Voice]
*This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward as we anticipate that day dawning. -Hebrews 10:24-25 [TPT]
*Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony. -Colossians 3:12-14 [TLB]
I hope I never have to go through a “clay mud bath” the way Anne and all the others did, but I want to remember how they all embraced each other and together got out of a tough situation because they did it together. They became “vulnerable” and that cemented their togetherness. We can do this, God mandates we do this, so it’s time to set aside differences and come together—in our families, our friendships, our work-places and our churches. I can already feel God smiling!!