Cody continued with his story illustrating being sincere.
“In the end, we all decided to stay in town for the night. We had the choice of a primitive hotel, which was really just one big room with a number of bunk beds. Or we could sleep in the town stable.
“That’s what I chose, for who could know the other men in the dormitory hotel? At least in the stable I’d have my horse to keep watch for me.
“As a precaution I went to see the sheriff to let him know what had happened. He could be friends with the three men, or he could be an impartial keeper of the law. Anyway, I’d let him know, so if anyone ended up getting shot, he could make a better decision on how to proceed.
“After talking with him, I went back to the stable, checked on my horse and laid down behind him in the stall; I knew he would never step on me and that no one would first look there for me.
“I rolled up in my blanket and was soon asleep. Hours later my horse woke me as he blew and moved. I drew my gun and silently rolled out of my blanket. I’d kept my boots on, so was ready.
“I waited, silent, straining to hear any sign of what was happening. Soon I heard a rustling in the hay, then footsteps going down the row of stalls, and the glow of a covered lantern.
“As the footsteps reached the end of the row, I heard a whisper, ‘He ain’t here. Are you sure he didn’t go to the hotel?’
‘Really sure. Joe was outside all evening and he never came!’
‘What’ll we do now?’ asked the other. That was my cue. I quietly stepped out of the stall, my gun drawn, and said, ‘Here I am, what do you want?’
“I had the advantage of night vision, while they were hampered by their lantern. They both went for their guns.
“‘Don’t do that,’ I said, “for it will be your last move. My gun is already out.” They stood perfectly still. ‘What do you want?’ I asked.
‘We were planning to kill you for hurting our pal in the eating hall tonight.’
“‘You both know that he’s the one who started it and egged on Andy until he tried to draw. You also both must know that I could easily have killed your friend, but I chose not to. He’s alive tonight because I was merciful.
“They were both quiet. I could see them clearly in the lantern light. Then I heard a step behind me, and I threw myself back into the stall just as a shot rang out. I heard one of the other men cry out. I crouched down, waiting, gun ready. The shooter walked quietly closer, looking into each stall. When he got to mine, I shot him in the foot. He drew back, crying out.
“‘Drop your gun and back off,” I said. You there, come and help your friend. The man with the lantern came up. ‘Where’s your other friend?’ I asked.
‘He took the bullet meant for you. He’ll not bother you again,’ he said.
“‘You’ve brought all this on yourselves.’ I said. ‘I could have killed you both tonight but chose not to. I’ve given you another chance at life. Don’t waste it again. Now get out of here and don’t bother me again! And pass on what I’ve given you: mercy.’
“As they hobbled out together, the sheriff arrived. He’d heard the shooting and was checking on things. He stopped them at the door, and they told him how their dead friend had been accidentally shot.
“When the sheriff came in with his lantern, he shook his head, ‘Why didn’t you just kill them?’ he asked. ‘They are a bad lot and were certainly after you!’
“‘Well, I believe in protecting people, even from themselves, not in killing them,’ I said. ‘You are right, I could easily have shot them all, and they certainly would have killed me if I’d given them the chance. But that’s not what God would have me do. If at all possible, I show mercy. I am sincere about what I believe.’
“The sheriff shook his head. ‘Wish we had a few more like you around here; would make my job a lot easier!’ he said. ‘Help me bring this dead trouble maker outside. We’ll put him the wagon out there.’ As we went back to pick him up, I heard him moan and realized he wasn’t dead yet.
“’Let’s get him to the doctor,’ I said. We did, and the man lived, for which I was thankful.
“We rode out the next morning, leaving behind at least three men who had a new lease on life, and hopefully learned something about Heavenly Wisdom, especially about being merciful.
“So, Sam, do you see how I was sincere?”
“Well, you could have defended yourself by killing them, but since you believed in mercy, you followed your values. You didn’t have any wax!”
Cody laughted, “Right you are, Sam. And I encourage you to do the same. We are here for a reason, and that is to be grace receivers and grace givers, so others can come to know Jesus as their Savior.”
“If nothing else, I hope that my time with you will result in such a relationship with God, and that you will be able to live out what we talked about with Heavenly Wisdom.”