Researchers at Great Basin National Park in January of this year stumbled upon a mystery. No one knows how long a 132-year-old Winchester Model 1873 rifle lay resting at the base of a juniper tree. It was found in a remote part of the park 300 miles northeast of Las Vegas.
All the rangers know at this time, is that the lever-action repeating rifle was manufactured and shipped by Winchester in 1882. An archaeological crew stumbled upon the rusted rifle leaning against the tree during a park survey. One of the team members said, [We were] “…the right people in the right place at the right time.” Imagine, an antique rifle resting against a tree for 132 years out in the open yet not one person noticed it in all that time.
Often as I drive my car I concentrate on the road or the stresses in my life and my wife will interrupt my train of thought by asking, “Did you see the deer in the field? Did you see how beautiful that house was?” Most often my reply is, “Nope, sorry honey, I missed it; I wasn’t paying attention.”
Back when our oldest son was in school in North Carolina, we traveled down there for the weekend to visit him. He wanted to get off campus in the worse way so we accompanied two other couples and their kids and descended on a local pizza joint. Multiple tables had to be pulled together to accommodate our large group of sixteen enthusiastic parents and kids. As we excitedly carried on our conversations, we filled the restaurant with our loud talk and laughter. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed while we were having a grand time, the waitress seemed distracted and distant. She appeared to have that look that she would rather be anywhere else than serving us.
As the others in our party continued their lively conversations, I joined in but kept a watchful eye on our wearied waitress. I didn’t want her to suffer the same fate as the Winchester rifle; blended into the background forgotten.
Our order was complete, and she came to the table and placed the pizzas in front of us with nary a comment. As she filled our empty beverage glasses, I made eye contact with her and said, “You seem so tired and sad tonight, are you okay.” Instantly a flood gate of emotion poured out of her. She blurted out her daddy was dying, then told us as she leaned on her husband for emotional support, he told her she was stifling him and he left her that very day. Her world was crashing down all around her and no one seemed to care. The conversation around the table died down as she shared the pain in her life. As tears began to form in her eyes, she excused herself quickly; no doubt to compose herself. We all asked each other, “What can we do to help her?”
We all had the same idea. When the meal was finished, we pooled our monies together and left her a whopping tip. As we prepared to leave, we thanked her for being such a good waitress. As we filed out to our cars, the waitress must have returned to the table because within seconds, she ran out into the parking lot with tears asking us who we were. My wife typically shy, embraced her and told her we were Christians and wanted her to know that she had not been forgotten by God. She held on to my wife like a drowning person would hold a life preserver. At the beginning of the night, the waitress started brokenhearted and faceless; we were able to restore her faith with a little act of kindness.
In a major newspaper following a large church having taken over a city for a week of spiritual meetings, the editor wrote his assessment of the attendees. “They came to our city with the Ten Commandments in one hand, and a ten dollar bill in the other, and they didn’t break either of them!”
If we don’t start making an effort to find the faceless individuals and offering them hope, we too may suffer the same fate as the Winchester rifle; standing alone, forgotten, and obscure.