Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Little Big Horn

Chances are, you have never heard of Thomas J. Stowers. In fact, if it were not for a small grave marker in Odd Fellow Cemetery in Baxter, Tennessee, his story might be lost forever. This marker preserves a piece of history that even the most astute history student might miss.

The gravestone reads as follows: Thomas J. Stowers, December 3, 1848-July 25, 1933 Enlisted September 3, 1864-Private Co. D 199 Regiment Served in the 7th Calvary after Civil War. Was sole survivor of General Custer’s massacre June 25, 1876.

History tells us that there were no survivors of that fateful battle, which occurred this week in 1876, except one horse named Comanche, who was found in a thicket with seven arrows stuck in him. However, Mr. Stowers’ marker tells us something quite different. His story that he told until his death is worth re-telling.

The story that has been passed down about him is that the reason he was able to survive was prior to the commencement of the battle, Stowers had been placed in a supply wagon because of an extreme case of intoxication. During the battle, the supply wagon was turned over, and he lay hidden beneath it.

Now, before historians and the like begin contacting me about the validity of Mr. Stowers’ story, allow me to acknowledge that there were as many as fifty people who “claimed” to have survived the battle. Most of them have been written off as “yarnspinners”. However, most of these didn’t take their tale so far as to be written on their grave marker. Whether the Stowers story is true or not, I think it illustrates a great point for us as Christians.

I have been preaching through a series entitled “The Battlefield”. We are discussing the spiritual warfare we are all engaged in, (Ephesians 6:12) and where those battlefields occur in our lives. We fight this battle at work, school, home, and even church. There are those who fight valiantly in this war, but there are many more who have been so “intoxicated” by the ways of the world, that they have no idea that a battle is even going on. They are sung to sleep by the hum of the world’s noise, and only awaken when the wagon they are riding on overturns.

Even then, many choose to stay out of the battle. They cower under some kind of cover to try to ride out the storm outside. They hear the sounds of war, but they choose to stay safely hidden. The problem, however, is that sooner or later, they are going to have to give an account to the general as to their role in the war. They will either be met with a medal of honor, and greeted with “well done my good and faithful servant”, or a verdict of treason and a sentence of “depart from Me”.

There is a story about a Scottish noble named Robert the Bruce, who led Scotland to independence in the 1300’s. He requested that at his death, his heart be preserved and taken on crusade by a worthy knight. James Douglas took on the responsibility.

In 1330, Douglas was engaged in a battle he realized he could not win. He was wearing the king’s heart around his neck. He took the heart, threw it into the enemy’s ranks, and cried out to his men, “Fight for the heart of your king!”

How long will you allow the battle to rage around you while you sleep? What will you do when your wagon is overturned and you find yourself in the middle of a war? Will you hide and try to ride it out, or will you fight well for the heart of your King?

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I urge you in the sight of God who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus who witnessed the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep this commandment without spot, blameless until our Lord Jesus Christ’s appearing, which He will manifest in His own time, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen. (1 Timothy 6:12-16)

No comments: