The Old Soldier's Tale - The Sten Gun

The old soldier told me the story how when he was stationed in Germany after the war he was issued with a Sten sub-machine gun instead of the more usual rifle.

He was given the ugly black weapon more usually used by the commandos and resistance fighters and a small sack of bullets and asked to sign. The cautious soldier asked how many bullets were there. Just sign, one gun, one sack of bullets, and so he did.

He returned to his billet opened the bottom of drawer of a chest of drawers and placed the gun and ammunition and there it stayed. Some of the soldiers took their weapons out at night and riding on the back of jeeps with search lights blazing, hunted down the many deer in the forests, but not this soldier.

Some six months later his period of duty in charge of a vehicle repair workshop ended and he had to hand his weapon in. He had almost forgot he had it. He opened the bottom drawer and the sight that greeted him was a gun red-rusty through lack of attention.

"What was he to do ?"

He took the gun to the workshops and poured black treacly sump-oil down the barrel and coated the entire weapon with the black sticky concoction.

The stores clerk held the weapon in his finger-tips, oil dripping on the counter. His expression, showed he wanted an explanation, but all he got was...


"It's just like I got it."

I suppose you are going to say this is like a modern version of the parable of the talents. There is a difference the gold talent which was buried had not corroided, the sten gun was useless.

It is said when a person doesn't for example drive for a while and then drives again that "he is rusty"
He does not perform as well as he would have if he had kept in practice and driven regularly.

Christians can be like that, they carry on in a routine, not practising, telling others about their faith, so that when they come to talk to others they are rusty.

"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect," (1 Peter 3:15b)

Author  Michael Fowler September 1999