March 13, 2012
Hello friends. Yesterday I left Norfolk and drove to Axton Virginia to the home of my sister Ellen. It’s about a 4 ½ hour drive through beautiful country. On my way I passed Petersburg Va. Petersburg is located just southeast of Richmond and is the site of one of the most… unusual… battles in the Civil War.
The Northern army under the leadership of Grant and the Southern army under the command of Lee were at a standstill only a few hundred yards from one another. In the summer of 1864, a couple of miners in the Union Army from Pennsylvania conceived the idea of digging a tunnel under the Confederate lines and blowing it up. This confrontation became known as “The Battle of the Crater.” It took almost a month to dig the tunnel that was over 500 feet long and spread into a “T” under the confederate lines. They then packed the end of the tunnel with dynamite and ignited it. They were final able to blow the mine up at 4:45 in the morning.
The plan was to create chaos in the confederate lines and then send in Union troops to split the southern army in half. In the Civil War in particular “plans” often went array. Sure enough the dynamite ignited after a couple of tries and a mammoth explosion occurred that instantly killed 200-300 southern troops. It also created a crater over 30 feet deep. The Northern army had trained black troops to charge the southerners after the explosion but at the last minute that plan was changed and a group of untrained white troops were sent instead. Originally the plan was to skirt the edges of the crater as they attacked but the new troops didn’t get that message so they attacked into the center of the crater. The sides of the “hole” were of a sandy consistency so getting out was virtually impossible. The southerners after they regrouped simply stood on the top edges of the crater and a terrible slaughter of northern troops ensued. Within a very short period of time approximately 5000 young men from both sides were killed with numerous others injured or missing. Grant called it one of the worst tragedies he had ever seen.
If you don’t know much about the Civil War you might not know that the North won mostly if not exclusively because they had more men and more resources. It was surely not because they had better leadership…they did not. The war was one long list of mishaps by Northern Generals! Mistake, after mistake, after mistake! But as we all know in the end they were victorious.
It occurs to me that this is a metaphor for the Christian walk. We spend our lives struggling with mistake after mistake after mistake… or as we put it… sin after sin after sin. Some of us struggle with particular sins that plague us for years and sometimes decades. Sins of anger, envy, pride… And for some of us we let those “mistakes” haunt us. We go through our lives continually being pulled down with thoughts of: “if I had only…” or “how could God love me when I continue to…” or “will I ever be able to get beyond…” Friends, that’s the bad news. The Good News is this: In the end we are victorious. In the end Jesus takes our sin upon Himself and we are declared innocent. In the end Gods love for us wins. We need to live our lives now knowing that we will be victorious in the end. We are not called to exist in perpetual guilt and fallenness. Jesus won the war for us on the cross!
No doubt we need to come before the Lord with our prayers of forgiveness and repentance, but let us come as His children who are loved and cared for. Not as whipped dogs waiting for the next blow to strike! Remember, YOU ARE THE BELOVED OF GOD!!! Don’t ever forget that…. EVER!