Going to War

Going to War

I was in the eighth grade when I traveled with my family to War. War, West Virginia. Dad kept our Buick Skylark in low gear as we slowly descended into the valley. Halfway down the mountain, we encountered a debilitated tractor-trailer. Beside the road, the driver was attempting a repair, his too small, grease-covered shirt and Wrangler jeans revealing more man skin than I’d seen to date.

As we pulled into the small town, I realized War was made up of just one street. That’s it? I dreaded the thought of spending a whole weekend in that place until I remembered why we were there—for my oldest brother’s wedding. This was the hometown of the tiny darling he was marrying. Months before, when she called and asked me to be one of her bridesmaids, I squealed. I’d never worn a fancy, long dress before.

In front of the town’s only five-and-dime store, Dad parked so we could buy snacks to tide us over until the rehearsal dinner. As I browsed the aisles, I glanced at the bins of socks, t-shirts, and underwear. They weren’t bright white like the undies and socks sold in my town. They were gray. In the school supply aisle, the packages of loose-leaf paper wore a gray tinge also. Same thing with the toilet tissue and paper towels. It took me a minute to figure out why. There in coal country, a skim of coal dust coated everything. The dark grit snuck inside each sealed plastic pouch to turn the factory-white fabric dingy. There was no escaping it.

Where I’m from is better, I thought. Everything there is whiter and brighter, bigger and prettier too. And much cleaner.

When Jesus came down from heaven, I wonder if he thought, “Heaven is so much better, way cleaner, and a whole lot brighter. Down here everything is so imperfect.”

The tarnish on this world is not coal dust. It’s sin, and no matter what we do, we can’t get rid of it. We might be able to hide our sin from other people, but we can’t hide it from God. Even if you’re doing a decent job at “being good,” compared to Jesus, you’re irrevocably stained.

Remember The Transfiguration? Mark 9:3 says “His (Jesus’s) clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.” Perhaps God provided The Transfiguration so Peter, James, and John could see how very different Jesus was from any other human. According to Strong’s Concordance, that’s what “holy” means—different. Jesus is different from us because though he was tempted, he never sinned. No other human has ever accomplished that and no other human ever will.

At the end of my brother’s wedding weekend, I returned home with my family, leaving War the way I found it, coal dust everywhere. Not Jesus. Before he went home, he did something about our stains, something only he, the sinless one, the Son of God, could do. With his own blood, he washed us clean. And when you acknowledge what He did, you don’t just become clean, you become different, holy.


Grace & Such strives to advance Christian growth among women. While we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God, we also recognize human interpretations are imperfect. Grace & Such encourages our readers to open their Bibles, pray for wisdom and study for themselves what the Word says. For more about who we are, please visit the About Us page.
Diane Tarantini
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  1. Diane on July 20, 2016 at 8:55 AM

    When Jesus came down from heaven, I wonder if he thought, “Heaven is so much better, way cleaner, and a whole lot brighter. Down here everything is so imperfect.” Could you even imagine if Jesus had our attitude about the different, the dirtier-than-usual, or even the cleanest we can get? So glad he was looking at us through different eyes! Thanks, Diane. A lovely piece of insight and love.

  2. Natalie on July 21, 2016 at 8:09 AM

    I love this! It reminds me of what Weirton, WV used to be like when the steel industry was booming–downtown was constantly covered in orange dust, and you could never see the stars at night. This was before my time, but that image sticks with me. And now it reminds me of this world’s imperfection, and the perfection to come.

  3. Barbara Whittington on July 21, 2016 at 5:12 PM

    All of our home towns have identifiers to set us apart. Sometimes colors. Sometimes something else. Like the air we breathe. The air where I lived was filled with chemicals, and the smell of chemicals. I lived in the chemical valley of Nitro, WV. We didn’t often see the chemicals, unless a plume of it escaped but it was identifiable. Sometimes it smelled like rotten eggs, other times it was simply a horrible unidentifiable scent. It was always unpleasant. We are all victims in one way or the another of the environment in which we live/lived.
    Lovely job Diane of letting us know something of the history of War. I love reading about West Virginia. She, like all the other states, has her dirt.

  4. Barbara Whittington on July 21, 2016 at 5:17 PM

    I got so caught up in the aspect of coal vs chemicals, I didn’t comment on the Lord’s washing us all clean. That’s the real miracle here. No matter how dirty we are or how sinful we are in this old world, he’s willing to forgive and forget when we come to him. I continue to be amazed at how he forgets – when often I want to hang onto my sin for awhile and beat myself up over it. It’s so unnecessary, I keep reminding myself. My favorite verse is John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son that whosoever believe in him shall have everlasting life.” It’s so simple yet me make it complicated. Bless you dear girl!

  5. Diane Tarantini on July 21, 2016 at 10:46 PM

    Thanks so much for stopping by ladies with your kind words. And Barbara (aka Bobbie), I’m originally from Huntington and my grandparents lived in Charleston. Every time we crossed that green bridge of yours, we called it “The Stink Bridge” by the way, we would roll up all windows and hold our noses for as long as possible. So yeah, I know a little about your original neck of the woods.

  6. Barbara Whittington on July 22, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    Sad to see what the chemical co.s did to our beautiful valley. Now they’ve gone off with their trillions to foreign ground and left ours tainted and many ill and dead.

    • Diane Tarantini on July 22, 2016 at 8:50 AM

      Take heart in Isaiah 51:6, friend. “Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.”

  7. Tara on July 23, 2016 at 1:32 PM

    Thanks for taking me on that adventure to War, WV with you. What a lovely story and reminder to walk humbly and view others as God views us- loving on our dingy imperfect souls.

  8. Gretchen Hanna on July 25, 2016 at 1:07 PM

    Diane, thank you for this image. What a great reminder of how easy it is to live someplace and think it just right until the scales are removed from our eyes. Also, even though it would be easy perhaps to look down on a little town like War, it’s such a reminder that we are but filthy rags – wayyy worse than coal dust – without His cleansing.

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