"The .22"

“The .22”‘

Take heed that ye do not your good deeds before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

Back in the seventies I opened a Gun Shop in Mauriceville. Texas. Early one morning I heard a loud motor in front of the shop---so loud that I stepped outside to see what it was.

It was an old vintage pickup idling at a dying throb. A man with a badly scarred face stepped out and walked me to the back of his truck. “Look at what I caught for supper,” he smiled as he pointed at three small perch flouncing around in the bed. ”.I caught’em down the road”, he said.

He brought an old .22 in the shop and began our conversation by telling me how he stepped on a land mine in Korea and almost died from it. “I promised God I’d serve Him forever if He let me live”. “Have you lived for him”, I asked. “Naw…I should have but I aint.” He told me that his Dad had given him the rifle (a 510 Remington single shot) when he was 11 years old. “The safety don’t work no more and sometimes it goes off”. Even though it needed to be re-blued and stock repaired, he told me to :”just make it safe to shoot”. “I can’t afford nothing else.” I told him he could pick it up in two weeks.

I felt so sorry for the man that I decided to restore the rifle completely and make it a gift to him. I ordered a new Fajen black walnut stock for it, completely polished it, blued it, and fixed his safety and trigger sear. I was really proud of that rifle! It actually looked better than it did from the factory. Exactly two weeks later, I heard a loud-idling truck drive up and knew who it was. I handed the beautiful .22 to him (which should have cost him $200) and with absolutely no emotion whatsoever he asked, “How much?” When I told him ten dollars, he calmly pulled out his billfold. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw SCORES OF $100 BILLS crammed in his wallet. After slowly extracting a ten dollar bill, he said, “Thank ’ye”, strolled to his idling truck, and rattled up the highway. I’m glad no one saw the look on my face as I stood speechless that day. My first thought was: “I can’t believe this”. My second thought was “How stupid can you get?” My third thought was: I’m a Christian, but God never told me I’d understand everything. He told me to do everything for the right reason. So the more I thought, the more I figured: that man didn’t have to appreciate me…..……..as long as God did.

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