I'm a bit of a Civil War geek. Where other periods in history have failed to hold my interest, I find the Civil War era to be one filled with interest and intrigue. Even though I strongly oppose war and violence of any kind, somewhere along the line the Civil War came to life for me.
I began to see the men fighting on both sides less as collective armies and more as individuals. For me, it became more than blue and gray, North and South, Yankees and Rebels. I started reading and thinking and began to understand more and more of the reasons and consequences of the war.
I used to think the CW(as we'll call it) was all about whether a man should allowed to own another, I used to think the South was bad and North was good. While I would never agree with slavery, I understand that for many people in the South it wasn't an personal vendetta but rather a way of life, rooted and grounded in them since birth.
Cotton and tobacco crops needed to be tended and slaves were the people that did it. Food needed to be cooked and served, children needed mammies, women needed maids, men needed valets and carriage drivers, and slaves were the ones to do the job.
Some may have genuinely believed that slavery was a God-given institution. But I believe that most didn't even think about the rights or wrongs, just "the way things are." These opinions weren't limited to the South though; on the contrary, many in the North strongly hated anyone of a different color and many in the South loved them with all their heart.
In short, North and South were just sides of the USA. There were individual people on both sides with personal beliefs and opinions about slavery and people that were different from them.
Enter Lincoln, a man who believed that "God made man, and men made slaves." And vowed to stamp it out if it took his life, which it eventually did. In January, 1863, Lincoln released the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring the slaves free in rebelling states.
I think how I'd feel as a slave set free, knowing many men had died to keep me a slave and many had died to set me free. How they'd fought for nearly four years for this very cause. Looking at my old home, once glorious and prestigious in its wealth now a barren wasteland. I imagine finding out I'd been released from a cruel master, realizing that a taskmaster's whip would never touch me again, and then I remember, I know that feeling well.
I was a never a slave in the physical sense, but I spent years with Satan as a master, his demons my taskmasters. I spent years doing his bidding, dreaming of freedom but not realizing there was a better way than this. Many men had lived their lives for the devil, determined to keep me bound in those chains and many had lived theirs proclaiming the gospel of Jesus, trying to help me to freedom. Then one day I accepted that Someone had died for me to be free. Not Lincoln, but Jesus.
He gave His Life so I'd be free forever. I never ever have to return to Satan and his tyranny. I never have to feel the chains compelling me to sin again. Jesus said "My yoke is easy and my burden is light." Freedom is sweet. I imagine knowing my life as literal slave was over forever and I know my life as a slave to sin is over forever, and I can't help but rejoice.
I'm free!!!!! I'm free!!!! Jesus set me free!!!!!!