John 8:32 (New King James Version)
And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
There are many types of weapons in the world, some more paralyzing and destructive than others. However, one elusive stagecoach robber of Northern California found the most effective weapon of all!
His name was Charles E. Boles, and he lived in San Francisco. He was a real gentleman, and no one would have guessed that he was really the infamous… BLACK BART!
Black Bart's legend of robberies began on July 26, 1875, on a mountain pass in Northern California. A man with his head covered in a flour sack, carrying a double-barrel 12 gauge shot gun appeared before a Wells Fargo stage coach. The strange man commanded: "Please throw down the safe box!" The driver started to reach for his rifle when the man, who was Black Bart, said, "If he dares shoot, give him a solid volley, boys!" The driver looked around for the other bandits and saw what appeared to be six rifles pointed straight at him from behind six boulders!!
The stage coach driver would later learn that these 6 rifles where actually only STICKS, but this, of course, was after he had given Black Bart the safe box!
This smart bandit went on to rob 26 Wells Fargo stagecoaches, stealing a total of $18,000! Throughout all of this, he was only assaulted twice. The first time led to a scar on his temple and the second time led to his demise.
The day was Nov. 3, 1883. A passenger, intent of deer hunting, jumped off a stagecoach part way up a hill and headed into the woods. At the next turn in the road, the coach came face to face with the infamous, gun-bearing Black Bart!
This robbery would become a bit more complicated, however, than Black Bart ever imagined possible. You see, the safe box was bolted to the floor of the coach! But Bart was undaunted. He refused to let four simple screws ruin his legendary reputation. After ordering the driver to walk away from the coach for an hour, he then began annihilating the safe box and relieving it of its load.
When the driver finally got to the top of the next hill, he met up with his former gun-bearing passenger. The passenger took a long distance shot at Black Bart, and the bullet sliced clean through the bandit's hand.
Black Bart made a safe getaway; but unknowingly he dropped a piece of evidence, a handkerchief. As unlikely as it may seem, such a simple piece of cloth led the detectives to a man named Charles E. Boles. After confessing to the crimes, Charles, A.K.A. Black Bart, received a 6-year prison sentence.
When Black Bart, was caught, two interesting facts were discovered. First of all, he had equiniphobia--fear of horses. How can anyone be afraid of horses, especially if a horse was a means of getting away fast! The second was that he had ballistaphobia--the fear of bullets! Throughout all of the robberies, Black Bart's gun was NEVER loaded!
However, Black Bart used a very simple weapon, one that other thief's would label as "Dumb", and his "Dumb" weapon would turn out to be more effective than a loaded gun will ever be! And what was this secret but powerful weapon that Black Bart wielded so effectively? It's simple: he used FEAR!
We all have fears in life, and each and every one of them can stop us from doing things that would help us. Like most of the stage drivers in Black Bart's story, we hide ourselves from what we are afraid of! We need to do like Jesus said in Mathew 10:26-31: "So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."
We need to learn from Jesus, and overcome our fears so that we can enjoy what life has to offer! If we let our fears control us, we won't be able to live a happy life. Our life will be controlled by our fears of death, our fears of heights and even our fears of bullets!
Dear Lord help us look to You as the author and finisher of our faith, help us ignore the fears that come our way, and live in peace with You at our side. In Jesus’ name, Amen.