Sunday, March 24, 2024

Palm Sunday -- 2024 and 1865

Greetings on this Lord's Day -- and Happy Palm Sunday! I just spent 4 wonderful hours working on the farm, enjoying the beautiful day the Lord has given us here in the Piedmont. Previously I spent the morning in Appomattox, where Lee's surrender to Grant took place 159 Palm Sundays ago. General Meade had just written to his wife, "The telegraph will have conveyed to you, long before this reaches you, the joyful intelligence that Petersburg and Richmond have fallen, and that Lee, broken and dispirited, has started towards Lynchburg and Danville." 

The struggle between the two armies had turned into a race. Lee's army roughly followed the course of the Appomattox River. In Farmville he retreated over the river on the High Bridge, where I so often exercise. Lee had run out of options and agreed to meet with Grant on April 9 in Appomattox Court House. The village is set among fields and trees. 

Its homes and outbuildings are just as they appeared in 1865. 

The centerpiece is the re-created McLean House. 

It was all over sometime around 4 PM. The nation would have a single flag again. Long may she wave! 

While in Appomattox I had the joy of attending the church where a former Southeastern doctoral student pastors. His excellent sermon was an exposition of John 19:1-5. 

Today I was reminded of just how many great things were not produced in ideal circumstances. Much of it arose in the midst of adversity, poverty, and great sorrow. Pilgrim's Progress was composed in a prison. Through Gates of Splendor would never had been written had not Jim Elliott given his life in the service of the Aucas. Books like 1 Peter and James came from a background of severe hardship. Easter would not have occurred without Passion Week and Good Friday. 

Great souls aren't produced in idyllic settings. A grindstone is needed to sharpen an axe. If you find the going hard, remember that great soldiers are produced in battle, not in a lecture hall. Chase fleeting fame and you are famous for a moment. But when we "lose what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose" (Elliott), we can outlive ourselves. 

Heading back outdoors. Have a lovely evening!