Mountaineers have been free since 1865. During that year the majority of West Virginians chose to leave Virginia and remain with the union of federal states. Making that choice set us free from the domination of southeastern Virginians who had no right to command those in the west who wanted to remain in the union. Even the pastors of the south gave up their freedom by refusing to address the issue of slavery. Instead they chose to make the argument one of state's rights to decide over the federal government's right to enforce the law of freedom of all humanity.
Freedom is the gift God gave to Adam and Eve in the garden to choose to not eat the forbidden fruit. This gift was the ability to choose to say yes to the good that produces freedom, but also to say no to the knowledge of evil that steals freedom and enslaves its captives. This God-given right proceeds from the garden of Eden as a gift of God. Although Adam and Eve freely gave up their right to know freedom, God did not give up on them. He came to the garden to find them and to rescue them from the fate of the knowledge of evil. God walks through the garden calling our names to come out of the bushes and speak to Him face to face. He wants to cover us and help us to not live forever in the knowledge of evil. We are free to listen to Him and to be.
Now mountaineers are free from the lawmakers of Richmond to make their own laws and direct their own lives. These God-given hills have blessed us in many ways. Their beauty strengthens us and reminds of the greater One. The challenge of living here and staying has strengthened us to stand up straight on the things we hold dear. The isolation and protection of these beauties have given us traditions and values that should be the envy of the world. We came on the power of the Almighty and overcame many obstacles to living, so now we can remain who we want to be without the world gouging out our eyes and destroying the truth we hold dear. Those who have stayed have remained free by the gift of the almighty One.
With freedom of life and traditions in our pocket we make our way across the hills to the full life of the mountaineer. Some have said if we stayed in the hills we stayed with the intent of making things better. It is true many have made things better for themselves and their families. It has been hard with the economy and the rugged uphill battle we face. Yet, some have stayed and remained as they were without seeking to change and improve. What's wrong with that? Are we not free to be whoever and however? Yet some would say if you don't change or try to improve things then you probably don't have the mind to do so. I think the problem is that many don't see life and the mountaineer.
Mountaineers came here from the fortified cities to fight the Native Americans and lay their lives and the lives of their families on the lines. Why? Opportunity, land, independence, family prospects, and a future hope would be the reason why they came. They were and are ready to have less and work more. They are willing to sacrifice so their families may live. They are willing to give like no other. Since many of the mountains have been bought by the foreign land companies in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and so forth, the goal of having enough land to make it has been dwindling or nearly impossible. Some have inherited their land and their parent's home, but to many it hasn't been enough to bring them back. But to some who have been determined to stay we have realized that it doesn't take hundreds of acres and multiple houses to bring happiness to a man and his family. What does bring happiness is one another. Family would be the single most important aspect of our lives in the hills. For many it was all they had and all they needed. Second to that would be the home place where you grew up and/or the place you now live. Then comes all the other. Why the family? When you came across as a pioneer all you would have is your family. So the other fringes of society weren't realized till just now when Facebook went online. What makes it so popular is not its ease of use but it's lead role in bringing together old friends/family.
Even though some may say we are poor, we aren't held up in traffic or afraid of a break-in while we are asleep. We have a hill to climb, woods to hunt, and rivers to fish. We always have a friend to talk to and a place to go to when we are in need. We have our freedom in our hand including the traditions that make it so enjoyable living in these hills. Thanks to the Lord for giving us one another. What else do you need? We are free to be as God created us to be.
John 8: 31: To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
Have you been set free? Enjoy the freedom of knowing Christ and living in the hills.