Bill’s Board December 2020

If you travel north on Interstate Highway 95 from Jacksonville into what Blake Shelton calls God’s country, be on high alert for the hidden County Mounties waiting to pounce on unwary travelers inexperienced in the local speed traps and foolish enough to exceed the posted speed limit in their jurisdiction. I was doing exactly that on a cloudy, moonless night; traffic was light due to the late hour. Nearing the Townsend exit I was surprised to see break lights from several cars at a complete stop blocking all northbound lanes. I could spot flashing yellow lights but no police cruisers or fire rescue trucks. I pulled over to the side of the road, got out of my vehicle and approached a man standing on the pavement.

I asked, “What’s going on?” The man said,” I reluctantly report a respected Road Ranger rescuing a Road Islander in a rare red Range Rover recovered from a ravine.” “Really?” “Right.” So I decided I better go look for myself.

Apparently the Road Island red Range Rover had been forced off the road into a deep ditch by an erratically driven Audi with Georgia plates. The two drivers were talking as the Road Ranger worked to keep the area safe while they all waited for the authorities. The driver who had been forced off the road and down the ditch was visibly shaken. The Georgian said, “Man, you look pale and you are trembling. Here, drink this. It will steady you down.” The RR guy took a big gulp and said “Geeze, that burns like whisky, but I do feel better.” “Good, good, I knew it would help. Go ahead and have another drink.” After taking another couple of pulls the RR man said, “I don’t know what this is but I really do feel much better. Are you some kind of doctor?” “No, I’m a lawyer and it is whisky. Look, the cops just got here. Let’s go talk to them. You can keep the bottle.”

As I drove on I thought how hard it is to trust anybody these days, but my thoughts changed when I got to Townsend. You see Townsend is a place built on trust. It is a small community to be sure; it has one gas station, three churches, and a bombing range. You heard me right, I said A BOMBING RANGE. The town– is built– around a bombing range. The Townsend Bombing Range is used for air to ground combat training. Pilots practice both live fire strafing runs and target bombing. The bombs are what they call inert munitions and only have a small charge to improve spotting hits. However, any kind of bomb landing on your house, car or live stock is not good. You have to have a lot of trust to build a house that has a sign in the yard reading DANGER LIVE FIRE ZONE. You really have to trust that a large number of people are very, very good at what they do and will not accidentally send hot metal into your person or property at ballistic speed.

I can’t speak for the good people of Townsend, but, as for me, I would need more than trust. I would need faith. What’s the difference you ask? There is a big difference between trusting people and having faith in their maker. Trust is circumstantial. The meaning of circumstantial trust can be summed up with the old military saying, “You can trust him with your life, but not with your wife.” I can trust you with this important thing but not that important thing because your limitations get in the way. Faith is all encompassing.

When times are toughest and it is hard to trust that people care about your best interest, a turn to faith can sustain you and warm the coldest day. But, if somebody offers you a bottle, it is always best to know what is in it and where the cops are.

Bill Tippins