A few days ago a Winchester model 1873 rifle was found in Great Basin National Park. This rifle was manufactured in 1882 and is estimated to have been sitting in the park for over 100 years. It was found just leaning against a tree with a weathered and cracked wood stock and a rusted barrel and action. This model gun is known as the gun that won the west. The original price for the rifle was $50 which was a substantial amount in 1882 (probably several months pay). Records indicate that the rifle left the factory in 1882, but there are no more historical records on this specific rifle.
There are many questions that remain after finding this rifle. How long has it been sitting there in the park? Who owned it? And most importantly to most, why was this valuable rifle just left sitting in the park? There are many theories that come to mind.
Perhaps the owner of this rifle laid it against the tree to rest for the night and was attacked in the night by bears. Perhaps the owner of the rifle had been attacked and wounded by Indians and escaped to this hidden position where he leaned the rifle against the tree as he died. Perhaps he had camped at that spot that evening and left the next morning forgetting his rifle leaning against the tree. Perhaps he had a heart attack and died in his sleep as he camped by that spot. The owner of the rifle might have been a good and honest man fighting for peace and protecting his family from the wild west. Or the owner might have been an outlaw who was robbing stage coaches and killing innocent people. He could have been a leader in the US army or he could have been a business man headed out west. He could have been a cattle rustler or a Cherokee Indian chief.
There are so many questions surrounding this rifle. It is like one man said, “If only this Winchester could talk”. It is probably more interesting to discuss the “what if’s” then it would be to actually know the truth.
The reality is we don’t know what really happened and probably never will, but there is one thing about this situation that we do know. We know that just as the rich man in Luke 12:20, his soul has been required of him. Whether he died at the hands of another person, at the hands of an animal, at the hands of health, or just died of old age…his soul has been required of him. It no longer matters that he owned “the gun that won the west”. It no longer mattered where he was heading that day or what he was planning to do in the future. What matters more than anything in the world to this man is whether or not he died faithful to God. Romans 2:4-11 describe that either we have a hard heart, refuse to obey God, and will face His wrath in the end, or else we follow God, seek for His glory and will be rewarded with eternal life. There is no respect of persons with God. 2 Corinthians 5:10 says, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”
Many times we are so concerned with the details of this life that we forget what really matters. Sometimes we want the fancy cars, houses, and toys so much that we forget what really matters. The reality is, the material things that we treasure so dearly in this life will be here long after we are gone. Someone may someday find one of these material things that we treasured so dearly and say, “I wonder”. Yet at that point the ONLY thing that will matter is whether or not we lived faithful to God!