Archive for January, 2010

SLINGSHOTS & LITTLE RED WAGONS

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

The difference between men and boys is the price of their toys. I’ve heard that all my life. I’m sure that some learned and intelligent person must have said it a long time ago. But if it’s true, then I guess we’ll be farm boys all our life.

Until the Red Ryder Daisy Air Rifle came into my life, there were a couple of other farm-boy toys that held equal claim to being number one. Of course, the bb gun brought with it countless hours of practicing to become the next Rifleman. I guess I had Chuck Connors shaking in his cowboy boots!

But up until that time, we had a slingshot and a little red wagon. Two toys that were supposed to be shared equally and enjoyed by all. But, you know, sometimes life just ain’t the way it’s supposed to be, if you’ll excuse my French!

The slingshot was great for target practice. Woodpeckers, rabbits, squirrels, tin cans. You name it. But before you get upset, I don’t think that I ever hit a single living and breathin’ object when it was my turn to play with the slingshot. Unless you count my brothers. But hold that thought for a minute or two.

The little red wagon was more rust than red. As Daddy preached to us a million times, ‘see there what happens when you leave your stuff out in the rain.’ You could barely make out a trace of where the word ‘Flyer’ was painted on its side. Suffice it to say that our little red wagon had seen its better day. I think maybe it had made the cross-country trek during the California Gold Rush in 1848. At least it looked like it could have been that old.

It didn’t even have a tongue. For anyone not blessed by growin’ up on a farm, the tongue would be called a handle by city folks. And the wheels were as wobbly as a 90-year-old man’s knees. But when we could find all four of them and get them to stay on at the same time, everybody wanted to ride around the barnyard, but nobody wanted to push. Ooops! Life just jumped up in my head again.  

Anyway, without a tongue to pull it, we had to improvise and innovate. And here was our plan. We decided to ‘borrow’ one of Daddy’s plow lines from the barn, cut it in two, double it up, tie it to the front of the wagon, and take turns pulling each other around the barnyard. It was a great plan. In theory only!

Oh, it worked well for awhile, maybe thirty minutes or so. George, or Ollie or I would take Wade or Eddie or Wendell, sometimes two at a time, for a nice little wobbly-wheel spin around the barnyard, through the hall of the barn, out into the pasture and back. The younger sisters were much too delicate, so it was just us boys!

As cries of ‘faster, faster, faster,’ rang out across the barnyard, it came my turn to ride. So the original plan was modified. We decided to pull the wagon up next to the house. Then George and Ollie would be double-pullers and run as fast as they could, with me in the wagon, down toward the barn.

Did I mention that a tongue is used to steer a wagon? In the absence of a steering mechanism, the rope becomes almost useless once you’re rolling. Well, we made it past the well-house without a problem. Now, just throw this image up on your mental movie projector. We’re going so fast, the rope is slack. And getting’ all tangled up around the axles where the wobbly wheels are dangerously close to slidin’ off the end.

When I peeked out between the fingers of both hands coverin’ my eyes, my stomach jumped up in my throat! There was nobody pullin’ the wagon!

Those two older brothers of mine had decided to stand back and watch. And laugh. And they swore on the Bible to Mother and Daddy that they had forgotten about the huge tree root that caused the total-loss wreck of the little red wagon.

All four wheels went in different directions. I went in still another – straight up in the air! I still have the picture in my memory today of why they call that little wagon a ‘flyer.’ With Daddy’s plow line wrapped all over it, Lil’ Red hit that big root, went airborne, crashed into the side of that two-hundred-year-old oak tree, and crumpled into a ball of metal about the size of a cantaloupe!

When I hit the ground, the very breath was knocked out of my lungs. I could only whimper like a sick kitten.  Both of my knees and elbows were bleedin’ like a stuck hog. And I thought my neck must surely be broken. As well as both arms and legs! If only video cameras had been invented fifty years earlier!

When the hollerin’ and screamin’ had died down to moanin’ and groanin’, Mother took me to the house to get me bandaged and cleaned up. I think she probably poured the whole bottle of methiolate over my broken, rag-doll body. At the same time, Daddy grabbed what was left of the plow line and, with a brother in each hand, headed for the woodshed.

Of course, I had to ‘milk it’ for all it was worth. Much too sore and bruised to tote any water or stove wood for about a week. So guess who had to double up on chores!

Now, remember that thought about the slingshot that I asked you to hold? Well, about the time my sores were healin’ and the memory of the wagon wreck was beginning to fade, guess what I found in the ditch down by the road? About fifty feet from the site of the wreck, there it was. The slingshot that had been in my back pocket on the fateful ride. And completely forgotten about till now!

Immediately another plan began to take shape in my mind. I hid the slingshot under some hay in the corner of the barn loft. Bidin’ my time.

And when Mother and Daddy went to town the next Saturday morning, my time arrived! Did I mention that it was a great year for the chinaberry tree in our front yard? I grabbed one of the empty fertilizer sacks with the strap on it that we used to pick cotton and filled it full of chinaberries. Throwing it across my shoulder, it was draggin’ the ground as I headed to the barn loft to retrieve my slingshot.

Let me say right here. That day cannot compare in historical significance to the day that Little David, the shepherd boy, grabbed his slingshot and five smooth rocks and stepped up against Goliath. But I want you to know. The skinny little kid from Route 4 had himself a ball. And even though David used only one of his rocks, I went through a fifty-pound fertilizer sack full of chinaberries before Mother and Daddy got home from town!

Some other learned person, or maybe the same one, said that life is what happens while you’re busy makin’ plans. Now, ain’t that just the gospel truth! From the time we’re knee-high to a grasshopper, we start makin’ plans. We’ve walked down the dirt road at Route 4 many, many times makin’ plans. ‘Man, I just can’t wait till I get out of school. Get me a job, probably makin’ about ten thousand dollars a year. And find my Jane so I can be Tarzan, and we’ll live happily ever after in our jungle.’ Sound familiar?

Well, we all know that out there in the real jungle, the wheels come off our wagons, don’t they? Plans get made. Plans get changed. New plans get made. New plans get changed. And on and on it goes. Life really is what happens while we’re busy makin’ plans.

But, to bring this saga to an end, could I please say that it’s good to have a little joy in our back pockets as we ride our wagons through the jungle out there? There’ll be times when the wheels will come off, and it seems like the monsters in the jungle will eat us alive. And we might have to make new plans.

But God’s plan is the one that counts. He has a plan for every life. And His plans don’t fail. Just like He had a plan for David’s life, and it didn’t include David gettin’ stepped on by a scary giant. So He put a laser in that little rock in David’s slingshot. And when the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran (1 Samuel 17:51(b). The important thing is to know and follow God’s plan.

And keep the slingshot handy.

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THE FAMILY TREE

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

There’s an old country saying that if you shake the tree, you better be ready for what falls out. Back home on the farm, we did a lot of tree-shaking. When the apples were ripe, a good strong shaking would cover the ground. You could eat apples till your belly hurt.

Then carry some to Mother for her homemade apple pie with the criss-crossing lattice-work dough covered in sugar and baked to a golden brown. Now, you didn’t want to be standing under the tree when it was shaken. That juicy Golden Delicious or Winesap would put a knot on your head when it fell from the top limb.

And when the shells on the pecans turned brown and Daddy shook it real hard, you’d think we were under attack. But a big ol’ piece of pecan pie would make you forget about the pecans hittin’ you in the head.

But with the pecan or the apple tree, it didn’t matter how much you shook the tree, the fruit didn’t fall till it was ripe.

In fact, if we got caught shaking the tree before the fruit was ripe, we’d earn a trip down that familiar path to the woodshed. According to Daddy, too much shaking before the fruit was ripe would upset the delicate buddin’ and pollinatin’ process. You see, it was his theory that every single apple or peach or pecan had its own growin’ and ripenin’ schedule. Some bloom early. Others come along at their own pace.

And I’m beginning to think that’s the way it is with the family tree, too. I hold absolutely no claim to being an agricultural research scientist or a genealogical expert. I’ve always heard that an ‘ex’ is a has-been. And a ‘spirt’ is a drip under pressure. So, if I ever claim to be an expert in anything, you can just call me a has-been drip.

But let’s plow a little deeper right here. If it’s true that genes skip a generation, then we’re all products of and inherited certain characteristics of our grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents. And so forth and so on.

I never got to know my grandparents on the Brown side of the family. Or my great-grandparents on either the Brown or the Martin side of the family. But you could ask most anybody around Route 4, Seneca, South Carolina, in the Return Community, and they could tell you about Mr. Hayne L. Martin and Miss Emily Compton Martin. Or Granny and Grandma as we knew them.

Even as a skinny, tow-headed kid in short britches, I could see that Granny was a hard worker. He dug up enough dirt to dam up a branch and built the spillway for a pretty good sized fish pond. All by hand! Just a pick, a wheelbarrow and a shovel. And that was after he wasn’t able to farm anymore.

And Grandma knew the Scriptures as well as any seminary graduate. But she was a school teacher. Back in the days when a teacher could put a little Scripture in her students. I think she knew the Bible from front cover to the maps. And when her eyesight failed, she insisted that we sit on the front porch while I read it to her.

Truthfully, I’d rather have been down there helping Granny build that fish pond. And when I would ask her, “Grandma, why do you want me to read something to you that you already know,” I think she was reading my mind. She’d say, “Read me that story again about Jonah and the big fish that swallowed him.” Well, she had me hooked right there!   

I guess that’s why we love to spoil our grandchildren, don’t we. You know that grandchildren are God’s reward for not moving off and leaving your children. Just when you think you couldn’t love your children any more than you do already, along comes the grandchildren. You know, those young’uns that make you good at filling in the blanks. As in, ‘Poppa, could I please have a (here’s where you fill in the blank)!   

But children and grandchildren are a lot like those fruit trees back home at Route 4. Some bloom early. Others come along at their own pace. That’s why the job of grand-parents and great-grandparents and great-great grandparents is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

You just never know what kind of ‘fruit’ those young buds are going to turn out to be. You might think they’re never going to blossom. But you just keep on nourishing and showing ‘em how it’s done in this orchard called life. And one day they might just surprise the daylights out of you!

Take our friend Joseph, for example. As we wind up our January jaunt through the Book of Genesis, you might call it the end of the beginning, since Genesis means the origin or the beginning, according to Mr. Webster. Joseph’s early life was less than spectacular. Sold by his brothers to some Egyptian slave traders when he was 17, it took a few years for him to begin to blossom.

His parents thought he was dead for a long time. He was in and out of prison for the next thirteen years. What did people think? This was Joseph of the royal line of Israelites. Abraham had a son named Isaac who was a miracle boy himself. And it was Isaac’s son, Jacob, who was Joseph’s daddy.

When you think about that blood line, you just know that Joseph was intended to do something special in God’s kingdom on earth. In fact, he was always under the watchful and protecting eye of our Heavenly Father. Because, when the time was right, God did indeed have a special job for Joseph, the saving of many lives. And forgiving his brothers for throwin’ him in a hole. Just thought I’d throw that in right there!

But I’ll bet during the famine in Egypt, Joseph’s grand-daddy Isaac, and his great-grand-daddy Abraham were his biggest cheerleaders in Heaven. And, you know, that’s our biggest job as grandparents. Cheer ‘em on. Nourish and protect. And be the cheerleader they can count on.

So what if they’ve got a cow-lick the size of Alabama on top of their head. Or they couldn’t tie their shoes strings in the first grade. They’re yours and God has given you the privilege of showin’ ‘em around the orchard for a few years. Until He’s ready for them to come to work for Him.

Joseph was 30 years old (same age, by the way as Jesus when he started his ministry) when he went to work in King Pharaoh’s palace. And the rest is history. And his reward was that he got to hold his youngest son’s great-grandchildren on his knee before he died at the age of 110 (Genesis 50:22-23). I’ll bet even Joseph, himself, couldn’t have dreamed of living that long or seeing his great-great-grandchildren when he was in a hole at the age of 17.

Grand-children – you gotta love ‘em! And I say, let ‘em shake the tree if they want to. I just pray that our three, Kirby, Casey, and Sarah-Parker, will keep on shakin’ the family tree. Even though the fruit’s not ripe yet, they’re really beginning to blossom.

And I can smell an apple pie for a country mile!

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TRUTH IN ADVERTISING

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Someone in the post office the other day pulled a handful of mail from his box. In big bold letters across the front of the first piece of mail he saw were these words. ‘YOU ARE OUR LATEST MILLIONAIRE!’ To which he was heard to reply as he tossed it in the round file, “Yeah, like I believe that!”

I once read where some educated and intelligent scientist had said that the human brain is bombarded with over a million messages in a single day. Whew, that’s a lot of noise, way over my five-gallon bucket limit. And, I’d dare say, probably about 75-percent of all that noise is trash.

Take the county landfill site, for example. Ridin’ by it the other day, I noticed that they had capped off a huge pile of trash and dug a big new hole to start all over again. I mean it’s a mountain of garbage right there in front of your eyes every day. It’s so high, a mountain goat trying to climb it would pass out from lack of oxygen.

Coming back from a few days off, a friend said that he had over 800 messages on his email. And about 700 of them were junk. I don’t know about you, but I get these junk emails all the time telling me that a long-lost, distant uncle of mine in Great Britain, or somewhere, is at the point of death and I’m the last living relative to inherit his fortune. All I have to do to claim this gazillion-pound fortune is to send three hundred American dollars to some off-shore bank account. They must think this farm boy is a couple of rocks short of a wagon-load.

Junk mail is mental garbage. Seems like everything you hear and see these days is advertising something. Believe this or believe that. Buy this or buy that. The latest and the greatest. It’s new and improved. Hurry, order today. Only three days left for this special offer. And with a million of those messages a day, it gets harder and harder to find something (or someone) that you can believe is real.

Have we seen and heard so much bad, evil, untrue, or downright ugly and mean stuff in our world today that we become insulated or immune to believing what’s really real? I realize I’m plowin’ a deep row here, so follow close.

There was a time when we were growin’ up back home at Route 4, Seneca, South Carolina, that you could believe. Especially if Mother or Daddy said it. When she caught us sneakin’ her long kitchen matches out of the house, Mother said, ‘If you play with fire, you’ll get burned.’ Ollie found out that was absolutely true. Trying to strike a match on the zipper of his overalls, he didn’t pull it away quick enough. He burned a hole in his pants, and got his behind scorched, to boot, at the woodshed. 

And when we used to bring the cows up from the branch to the barn at milking time, Daddy would always say to us, “If you follow the herd, you’re gonna step in something that Octagon soap won’t get off.” Truer words never spoken! Following the crowd today will get you in trouble, too, especially if the crowd is headin’ in the wrong direction.

One of the millions of messages coming down the pipeline these days is you can’t ‘make it’ in this dog-eat-dog world if you’re not tough. And to some people tough translates to mean and ugly. And treatin’ others badly. The plaque on their office wall says, ‘When you get him down, step on his throat. Show no mercy. Take no prisoners. Repay mean with mean. Don’t ever be accused of being kind. Kindness is for sissies.’ I’m thinkin’ of a word from Route 4 that describes that kind of attitude. And that word is HOGWASH!

But, I repeat, some people say you can’t make it in this world if you’re not tough. To which I say, you can’t make it out of this world if you’re not kind. Tough isn’t mean. Tough is having and believing in a set of absolutes, and standing up for ‘em. Tough says live and act like what you do makes a difference; because it really does.

Growin’ up on a farm in the fifties was tough. No frills. No bells and whistles. Just tough. Ask anybody who grew up that way. Especially in big families, parents had to be tough to survive and see their kids survive. But, just like Mother’s homemade apple cobbler, underneath the crust you’ll find the good stuff.

Our friend Joseph in the Book of Genesis was a tough guy, a good guy, and a kind guy. All rolled into one. His brothers deserved to be hung from the tallest oak tree in the barnyard, but that wasn’t Joseph’s way. More importantly, it wasn’t God’s way for Joseph’s life. Or for yours and mine.

After Jacob died, Joseph’s brothers got scared and were afraid that he would repay them for all the wrong they had done to him (Gen. 50:15-21).

Look at verse 18. They came full circle. In the early days they had thrown him down into a hole. Now they come to throw themselves down at his feet and beg forgiveness.

But Joseph told them not to worry. They intended to do him wrong, but God intended otherwise. So that Joseph would be ready ‘for such a time as this,’ the saving of many lives. Verse 21(b) would make a great epitaph for all our headstones. He spoke kindly to them.

Are there any rock-solid absolutes in our personal and public lives? The sign out front of the little white church at Madison, SC, a while back read, ‘God’s Word is not obsolete. It’s absolute.’ The more I see and hear, the more I want to say, that’s absolutely right!

 OK, now let me see a show of hands. How many of you remember The Rhinestone Cowboy? Also known as the Wichita Lineman? And do you remember where you were and what you were doing in January of 1970 when Glen Campbell sang this song.

If you see your brother standing by the road with a heavy load from the seeds he’s sowed, and if you see your sister falling by the way, just stop and say you’re going the wrong way. Don’t walk around the down and out; lend a helping hand instead of doubt. And the kindness that you show every day will help someone along their way. You’ve to try a little a little kindness, yes, show a little kindness; just shine your light for everyone to see. And if you try a little kindness, then you’ll overlook the blindness of narrow-minded people on the narrow-minded streets.

Are you and I walking billboards for the Lord? Are we, in truth, what we say we are? Showing to others the same kindness He shows to us? If we are, why don’t we all order Glen Campbell’s “Try A Little Kindness” as the ringtone for our cell phones! Now that’s what I call truth in advertising!

If I can’t be anything else, Lord, let me be kind.

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MUSCADINES & OLYMPIC GAMES!

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

I rarely ever pick up a bag of grapes in the produce department at the grocery store without thinking about muscadines. And how we used to climb trees back home on the farm in search of them. Muscadine vines would climb over, around, through, and up most anything.

And Mother could make some of the sweetest muscadine jelly you ever tasted. You take a hot cathead biscuit right out of the oven, with cow’s butter dripping out the sides, and pack it full of her muscadine jelly! Now that’s what I’m talking about!

But I always had to work harder than anyone else to be sure Mother had enough to make her mouth-waterin’ jelly. All because Wade loved those things better than ice-cold watermelon on a hot day in July! I mean, we’d scour the woods all around Route 4 looking for the big ripe muscadines and, once we found a tree loaded with ‘em, we’d start climbin’ and pickin’.

Not little brother Wade. He could outrun a squirrel up a tree. Then he’d sit on a limb at the top and eat till his stomach hurt. He was a lot slower comin’ down the tree than he was goin’ up. Unless he heard the hiss of a rattlesnake. Then he’d play like Super Man. Without a cape.

You know, life’s a lot like huntin’ muscadines. We spend most of our adult lives climbin’ and pickin’. Grab a few ripe ones from the easy-to-reach low-hangin’ limbs. Test ‘em for their sweetness. At least that’s what Wade called it. Take a break and eat a few. Then keep on climbin’, always reachin’ for those last few big ones. Sometimes you grab a limb that won’t hold you. And you’re faced with decisions. Quick ones. Should you reach still higher for another limb that might break? Or should you drop back down to the more steady and secure limb where the muscadines aren’t as plump and juicy?  

How sad it is to see folks with so much God-given ability, just content to rest on a safe limb, paralyzed by the fear of reachin’ for the next limb up the tree and the sweeter fruit. If you’ve ever seen a brother sittin’ on a limb at the top of a tree, grinnin’ like a Cheshire cat, enjoyin’ the fruit of his climb, you have a picture of true happiness! In Olympic competition, I think they call that a gold medal.

This is just me, but I believe that if they had held Spiritual Olympic Games back in Joseph’s day down in Egypt, he would have won at least a couple of golds. Maybe even more. He would have won gold for sure for not givin’ up, stayin’ in the game. His life’s race started in the hole. Literally. Thanks to some jealous brothers.

Joseph would probably have won gold also in the Attitude Race. Forced to leave his home team and go compete in a foreign country, he never belly-ached or whined. And he would have scored a perfect ten from all the judges for listening to his Coach and following the game plan. God told Joseph that he’d be in the medal ceremony and he won gold goin’ away by saving the lives of every person in his country! Wow! Fly the flag. Play the anthem.

Joseph’s Daddy, Jacob, had 12 sons in the race. Read how he described the starting line-up in Genesis 49:1-28, particularly his description of Joseph in verses 22-27. If you don’t read anything else today, please read those six verses.

I won’t steal your blessing, but Jacob starts off describing Joseph like he was a muscadine vine, full of much fruit, climbing over walls and probably up trees, too. His enemies tried to cut him down, but he stayed strong and fit. And with the blessings of the Almighty, the laurel wreath of victory rested on Joseph’s head.

And you know what? We’re in the Spiritual Olympic Games every day of our lives. We might not win a medal, at least here on earth, but there might just be somebody sittin’ in the stands watchin’ how we compete. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll be inspired to get in the race, too.

I can see Wade right now sittin’ at the top of the tree. Grinnin’ and eatin’ his big, juicy muscadines. And callin’ me a scaredy-cat every time I heard a limb crack. Go ahead. Put the Route 4 gold medal around his neck for climbin’ the highest and eatin’ the most muscadines. But, hey, I think I smell Mother’s biscuits comin’ out of the oven.

Would somebody please pass the jelly?

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GOOD GUYS WEAR WHITE HATS!

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Have you been to the picture show lately? It’s just not the same anymore. Me and sweet thang decided to go to the show a couple of weeks ago. She picked out what we wanted to see and I drove ‘Miss Daisy’ to town on a Saturday afternoon.  ‘Cause old people don’t see too well at night.

So we get there and I walk up to the box office. The teenager behind the glass asked me if I had my club card. Well, back home at Route 4, we had a club, called it a fort, built back in the woods behind the house. But we didn’t have a club card. So I asked her if my Medicare card was OK. But it wasn’t necessary. I think she had already figured out that we qualified for the senior citizen reduced rate. But when she said, ‘that’ll be 12-dollars, sir,’ I almost passed out.

After I recovered from the sticker shock, we walked in the front door. And then it happened. The aroma of fresh popcorn dimmed the house lights in my mind. I could almost hear the projector crank up as the black and white images flickered onto the screen in my mind’s eye.        

And before you could say ‘yippy-yi-yo-ki-yay,’ I was finishing my Grit newspaper route and headin’ over to the old Oconee Theater on Townville Street in downtown Seneca, South Carolina.

Long before we ever knew what a matinee was, you could see a great western AND enjoy a Coke and a box of popcorn. All for a quarter. Yep, that’s right, pardner.  The movie, the popcorn, and the Coke, all for only twenty-five cents.

Excuse me, please, but I just have to run down this side road for a minute.  Have you bought a Coke and popcorn lately at the picture show? First of all, the Coke comes in something that looks like a five-gallon bucket with a straw in it. And that was the medium size. I’m guessing that it would have taken both of us to carry the large one. But when another teenager said it was six dollars, we decided to pass. With that much liquid, one or both of us old fogies would surely miss some of the picture show while we were at the toilet.

And just for general principle, I decided to check on the popcorn. I’ve toted tow-sacks of fertilizer to the garden that didn’t have as much in ‘em as that large sack of popcorn! But when the young man behind the counter told me it was seven-fifty, I mumbled something about a low sodium diet as I walked away. He was a good salesman, though. Or either he liked to see old people in shock. As I turned to leave, he said, “and we’ll cover it with hot butter for only two dollars more.” Tom Mix, where are you when I need you?

But back to the sticky floor and the bubble-gum covered seats at the Oconee Theater. I can’t remember what I had for supper last night, but I’ll never forget those old western flicks. Some bad guy would come into town from his ranch and start a bunch of trouble. You know how those farm boys are! Then Gene Autry or Roy Rogers would ride into town and help Wyatt Earp save the day.

But you always knew who the heroes were and who the villains were. The good guys were clean-cut and wore white hats. And the bad guys always seemed to be snarlin’ out from under their black hats. I think these days they ought to dress the kids behind the movie counter in black hats and cowboy boots and toy six-shooters and holsters. Just for the fun of it. There oughta be a little something to grin about when you have to float a loan to go to the picture show!

I don’t know if they wore hats at all back in Joseph’s day. But if they did, he definitely wore a white one. The famine was so severe that both Egypt and Canaan dried up and wasted away (Genesis 47:13-25). But even after the people spent all their money, Joseph still kept on feedin’ them. He even took their cows and goats and sheep and donkeys as payment for the food that saved their lives. And when they had no more livestock left, he even bought their land so they could keep on eatin’.

But here’s where Joseph would have been a great hero in a western movie. After the people had spent all their money, and all their animals, and all their land for food, Joseph rode in to save the day and run the devil out of town in a dust storm.

He gave the people seed to plant a garden, with the only payment being a fifth of it when the crops came in (v.24-25). He let them keep the other four-fifths to feed themselves and their children! He saved their lives and they were eternally grateful. If he had been a cry baby when his brothers threw him in a hole, and pitched a fit when he was taken down to Egypt, he would not have been available to play the lead role in God’s plans to make the Israelites a great nation. Somebody ought to make a movie out of that story. 

I’m saving my quarter just in case.

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RESERVATIONS FOR 70!

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

I’ve racked my brain and searched my memory, but I just cannot recall ever hearing Daddy say, “OK, guys, load up the truck. We’re going out for pizza tonight.” Well, of course, he wouldn’t have said that. Eatin’ out meant watermelon on the front porch when we were growing up on the farm.

There was no such thing as a pizza parlor…or a steak house….or a seafood restaurant…or mama-mia’s Italian favorites. But if there had been any of these eatin’ places around back then, I can just hear the host or hostess. Table for how many? Eleven? Do you have reservations? Duh!

Hard to call for reservations when you don’t have a phone. But you can be sure of one thing. If any of us rambunctious country boys even looked like we wanted to ‘get out of line,’ it wouldn’t have been a trip to ‘time out’ land. No, siree! It would have been woodshed time right then and there.

But speaking of waiting lines and reservations and phones, Miss Helen and I had a hankerin’ for some seafood the other night. I guess everybody and his brother had the same hankerin’. I let her out at the front door while I went to try to find a parking space.

After I had circled the parking lot twice, she called to tell me to come back to the front door to pick her up. The waitin’ line was one hour long! I think a couple of tour buses full of hungry folks had arrived just before us. Without reservations, I might add! I don’t know ‘bout you, but there’s only one place that I’d wait in line for an hour to get in. But it’s out of this world. If you catch my drift.

But feedin’ a large group requires advance planning and preparation. Like the time the Lord made plans to feed Jacob and his crowd of hungry folks. I mean, everybody in the country was hungry. There was a severe feminine in the land. But, see, God knew this was going to happen. Nothing comes as a surprise to God. So He had already made plans to feed Jacob’s family.

And those plans started way back many years before with Jacob’s Grand-daddy Abraham, who had a son named Isaac when he was 100 years old. So God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of sand on the beach. You didn’t think He would let them die of starvation in a foreign country, did you?

God’s plans to make Abraham a great nation continued on to Isaac, Jacob’s daddy. And to Jacob. And to his favorite son, Joseph. God’s plans also included Joseph being sold to a bunch of slave drivers from Egypt. And we know about all the potholes and detours Joseph’s road took down to Egypt.

So now we’re up to date and following God’s plans. When the famine hit, Joseph had accumulated lots of food and power down in Egypt. Again, all according to God’s plan.  So God told Jacob one night to wake up, get up, and pack up. (Genesis 46:2-4) They were going out to eat. And God told him not to be scaredy-cat just ‘cause they were going down to Egypt. The Lord had started making these reservations many years before. And He promised to go with Jacob down to Egypt, and to bring him back home.

Only one problem, Well, actually a couple of problems. There were 70 people in Jacob’s family (Gen. 46:27). And Jacob was 130 years old. But nothing’s too hard for God. I know you’ve heard that before, but I just thought I’d throw it in right here anyway. So some of his boys put Jacob in one of Pharaoh’s wagons and off they went to eat out. Down in Egypt. With all their livestock and everything thing they owned. Lock, stock, and barrel.  

Pharaoh thought so much of Joseph that when his daddy and brothers got to Egypt, the king offered them the best ‘seat in the house,’ so to speak. And some property in the best part of Egypt (Gen.47:11-12). And that’s how Joseph was able to take care of his daddy’s party of 70 people. And it all started when his brothers threw him into a hole.

Maybe you’re in a hole today. Why not claim God’s promise to Jacob? Don’t be afraid to go down to Egypt. He’ll go with us and bring us back, too, at the right time. He’s made all the arrangements, so make the call.  Reservations are required.

But there’s never any waitin’.

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RIDIN’ THE ROLLER COASTER

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Have you been to an amusement park lately? Somehow I just don’t find anything amusing about being strapped into something called The Triple Tornado and having your body jerked backwards, thrown forward, hung upside down at 90 miles an hour, and then slammed to a dead stop like hittin’ a brick wall. And they call that amusing? Anything that makes me deposit on my shoes what I had for breakfast is definitely not amusing!

Back home on the farm, we had never heard of things like Ferris wheels and roller coasters. But we did find ways to amuse ourselves. One of the things we did for fun might have even been the forerunner of these modern thriller rides that kids love so much today. And it involved one old bicycle. No fenders. No chain guard. No kick stand. Spokes missing from the wheels.

What could possibly be fun about ridin’ that thing? Nothing much. Until you take it to ‘The Hill.’ That was the part of our Route 4 dirt road from behind our barn down to Coneross Creek. Fairly steep grade. No car traffic. But with only one bike and six boys (too dangerous for the girls!), it took all day for everybody to get just one ride. I mean, the next rider always had to wait at the bottom of the hill and push the bike back to the top to begin his ride. That was until we (they) decided to do ‘the double.’

‘They’ being George and Oliver, the older and (supposedly) wiser ones of this bunch of thrill seekers. One of them would get on the bike normally. Then one of us smaller guys would take a seat on the handlebars. And away we would go. At speeds approaching probably ten miles an hour, we flew down The Hill. Hands in the air and the wind in your face. With your legs straight out to the side so your feet wouldn’t get caught in the spokes.

But in the bright light of hindsight, I’ve come to believe that The Hill was a lot like life. Just when you’re flying high, something can come along and turn your thrill into a chill. On the roller coaster of life, sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. And sometimes it’s a very small or insignificant object that upsets the ride.

Take our handlebar rides on The Hill, for example. When that front wheel hits a rock, even a little one, you wind up shaking hands with a rabbit in the briar patch on the side of the road. Or when the chain broke and came off, whoever is pedaling loses all control. That’s when you start looking for the softest place to land.

Our goal on The Hill was to fly like a bird down the hill, across the rickety wooden bridge over the creek, and come to a stop going up the hill on the other side. But I can count on the fingers of one hand how many times that happened. But did that stop us from ridin’? No siree! As soon as the skinned knees and elbows healed, we were back out there on The Hill again.

And so it is in life. I think we can all agree that our friend Joseph had some ups and downs in his life, too. From the palace to the prison, Joseph made a difference in the lives of people around him. And ultimately he wound up back on top of the hill. For one reason. It was God’s Plan for him to be sent down to Egypt to save lives. As the number two man to the king, he was in charge of all the food in the land during a seven-year famine (Genesis 42:6). And some of the lives he was able to save were his own brothers. The same ones who had sold him into slavery and sent him down to Egypt.

Maybe you’ve hit a rock in the road. Or the chain has come off your bike. And The Hill has sent you sprawling into the ditch. Maybe you woke up one morning and found yourself ‘down in Egypt’ through no fault of your own. Follow Joseph’s story all the way over to Genesis 45:5-7. There we find Joseph telling his brothers not to be upset or mad at themselves in their guilt over the way they had mistreated him.

It is the perfect picture of forgiveness that God expects each one of us to extend to anyone who sends us ‘down to Egypt.’ Back to the time in his childhood when they tore his coat of many colors off his back and threw him into a hole in the ground, even that was according to God’s plan for Joseph’s life. To put him into a place and a time where he would save lives.

And better still, Joseph held no grudges. As he told his brothers (Gen.45:8), in reality it was God Himself, not the brothers, who sent Joseph down to Egypt. So there was no reason to hold a grudge against them. Sometimes the greatest blessing we can ever give someone is to forgive them. Even when we’re not at fault.

Jesus set the example for all of us to follow on hill one day long ago. Mistreated and abused, with his life’s breath ebbing away, He prayed to the Father to forgive them because they didn’t know what they were doing. Even when a brother intentionally hits a rock to throw you off the ride, a grudge is the heaviest load we’ll every carry.

Totin’ it up the hill is almost impossible.

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BLOOM WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED!

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

This may sound like a dumb question. But I’m going to go ahead and ask it anyhow. And just hope that you haven’t had a belly-full of dumb questions today. It’s a what-if question, so at least my grandchildren will like it.

What if we couldn’t load up and head over to Cracker Barrel for some cathead biscuits floatin’ in saw mill gravy and hemmed up on our plate by a couple of slabs of skillet-fried country steak and mashed taters? With green beans on the side like Mother used to cook. And, maybe while we’re waitin’, a bowl of protein-rich pinto beans with hunks of ham in ‘em. Soakin’ up a chunk of hot buttered cornbread. And some peach cobbler for dessert.

Now, I know what you’re thinkin’. Your cholesterol and triglycerides must be through the roof. Would you believe that I never heard those two words in my life until I was over 40 years old? And I guess if I still worked like we used to work back home on the farm, I still wouldn’t have to worry about cloggin’ up my arteries.

And here’s a little side road. If we still grew red-hot peppers like mine and Ralph Nix’s daddies used to grow, we wouldn’t be bothered by sinus and hay fever and allergies, either. You could almost see the smoke coming out of their ears. I’m tellin’ you, they’d make your eyes water from half a mile away!

But here’s my point. And, yes, I do have one! What if we had to go back to the Route 4 way of life where you ate what you grew? If you didn’t grow it, you didn’t eat it. You wanna create wholesale panic at your house. Just tell your kids that all the drive-thru, order-your-food-from-a-speaker-box, pick-it-up-at-the-second-window places have closed up shop. No more biggie-size fries and half-gallon cups of cola to wash ‘em down.

Just try wakin’ ‘em up in the morning with this. ‘OK, boys, time to head for the garden. We got a lot of plowin’ and plantin’ to get done.’ No use to bother the girls. They wouldn’t be caught dead in the  garden. Might mess us their white-tipped, manicured finger nails. But the guys would say, ‘OK, Dad, just give me a few minutes to download a few more tunes on my I-pod.’

The only pod I ever heard of grew on a stalk and made your arms itch when you got within a hundred yards of it. And it turned all slicky and slimy when it was boiled. Don’t make me say the name of it. I’ve already got chill bumps just thinkin’ ‘bout it!

OK, I’ll get to the point. In the Route 4 way of life, good stuff on the supper table came from the garden. Now don’t get me wrong. Drive-throughs are handy. And the five-star, written up in Southern Living, reservations-required, fine dining establishments are nice. But if we had to go back to the garden, could we survive?

So, let’s go see my friend, Justin Case. You know Just-in Case, don’t you? Like Mother always told us. Stay with your brothers just in case it gets dark before you get back to the house.

Just in case we have to go back to the garden, here’s a little self-help manual. I did not say “Gardening For Dummies.” Two important rules to remember. Number one, it’s a lot of back-breakin’ hard work. Number two, nothin’ good happens till you plant some seeds and throw some dirt on top of ‘em. Not enough to bury them, but just enough to start the growin’ process. Unless you’re plantin’ that stuff that starts with an ‘o.’ About two feet deep will be OK for that!

And for goodness sake, don’t expect red-ripe watermelons to come up over night. Show some patience. You can’t just throw some seeds in the dirt and sit back in the shade drinkin’ ice tea. You gotta tote water for the soon-to-be sweet cantaloupe seeds to drink. And nourish ‘em with some good fertilizer. And keep the weeds and briars pulled up from around them. Didn’t I tell you that growin’ the good stuff was hard work?

Now I’ll be the first to admit. With my old sore back and arthritis knees, I’d starve to death if I had to grow what I eat. So, don’t think for a skinny minute that I’m not thankful. And the next time you’re in the rockin’ chair on the front porch of Cracker Barrel waitin’ for your name to be called, chew on this.

The same instruction book can be used in the garden of life. Plant some seeds. Then water, nourish, and cultivate. And don’t worry if you get a little dirt under your finger nails. That’s the good kind of dirt. In the garden of life, if you’re slingin’ mud, you’re losin’ ground! And that’ll get you to the woodshed faster than you can say ‘pass the maters, please.’

Our old friend Joseph from the Book of Genesis is a perfect example of bloomin’ where he was planted. Consider what happened in his garden of life. Thrown into a pit by his brothers. Sold into slavery. Taken down to Egypt by some strangers. Rose to prominence doing what was right taking care of Potiphar’s stuff. Thrown into prison for runnin’ from an evil woman. Became supervisor of all the other inmates while he was in prison. Brought out of prison at the age of 30 to serve the king of Egypt. And became second-in-command to the king using his God-given wisdom.

I highly recommend you read the whole story in Gen. 41:41-57. Could I just say this? Like those butterbeans, squash, and other goodies in the garden back at Route 4, a little dirt thrown their way actually helped start the growin’ and bloomin’. Joseph didn’t ask for all the dirt thrown in his garden of life. But he didn’t let it stop him from bloomin’ where he was planted!

There’s just a very small difference between bitter and better. So what are you plantin’ and growin’ out there in your garden today?

Sweet yellow corn or red-hot peppers?

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ALL THE MARBLES!

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Just wonderin’ out loud – do kids play marbles anymore? I don’t think so. I haven’t seen a good game of marbles in forever. Been many a moon since I played one, too. And for good reason. If I got down on my hands and knees in the dirt, somebody with a strong back is going to have to come along and help me up!

But shootin’ marbles is a fun game. Teaches you a lot about life. What can be learned from a game played by skinny little kids in short britches?  Thought you’d never ask. Just in case you’ve never had the privilege, allow me to ‘splain’ how we played marbles back home at Route 4. All you need is a ten-cent bag of marbles and your favorite ‘shooter.’ And some strong thumb action. 

Then you take a stick and draw a big circle on the ground. Right there is a big draw-back for today’s kids. Where in the world are they to find a place to play marbles? Certainly not in the concrete jungle of our world.

But, anyway, back to the game. Everybody empties their marble bag into the circle. Then everybody gets down on all fours around the circle. And you take turns using your ‘toy’ or shooter, as we called it, to knock other marbles out of the circle. What you do is first make a fist and then tuck your thumb under your forefinger. Let’s all practice that right now. You’re looking good.

Then you put your shooter in the crook of your forefinger and let it rest on your ‘trigger,’ which is your thumb that’s tucked under your forefinger. Now, here’s where the action starts. It’s all about wrist movement and thumb strength. Pull the trigger and see how many marbles you can knock out of the circle and capture. When all your marbles are gone, you’re out of the game. And whoever takes all the marbles wins. The combination of a strong thumb, a good aim,   and a good shooter marble will make you Champy-Un of the World!

Hey, I just had a thought. Maybe I could invent a marble game to be played on these remote-controlled electronic gadgets that the kids hook up to the television set when they come over to the house. I’ve seen ‘em play those things. Their thumb action reminds me of a hummingbird’s wings. And you could play marbles rain or shine. Wouldn’t have to wait for a sunny day to go outside and draw a circle in the dirt and get down on your all-fours! We may be on to something here. If one of you high-tech wizards will get in touch with me, we’ll put everything together.

Back to the main road. I was never very good at marbles. First of all, I didn’t like spending hours hunched over in the dirt on my bony knees and elbows. And secondly, I’ll admit. I just wasn’t very good at it. Weak thumbs. No wrist action. And no aim. My brothers, even the younger ones, would pull the ‘trigger’ and my marbles would go flying!

But one day I got even for every marble I had ever lost. After being knocked out of the game, I was rummaging around Daddy’s tool shed. And there it was! The shooter marble that would win me the title belt. It was shiny and hard as steel. Actually, truth be told, it was steel. A ball bearing about the size of a marble. Don’t know where it came from. But for a long time, it went everywhere I went. Even under my pillow when I was asleep!

I borrowed a couple of marbles to get back into the game. And when it came my turn, it was like shootin’ fish in a barrel. With my new-found ‘toy,’ I took dead aim at every marble left in the circle. Nobody else gets a turn till you miss. And I didn’t miss! With the memory of every marble I had ever lost, I wiped the circle clean!

But my chest-thumping, banty-rooster struttin’ didn’t last long. One of my cry-baby brothers went runnin’ to Mother and told her I wasn’t playin’ fair. Can you imagine that! Every time I had ever put my hands on a dime, it went for another bag of marbles. And I lost ‘em all. Every single one. Till I found my new ‘shooter’ at the tool shed. I just thought it was meant to be. Hey, maybe God was lettin’ me get even for all the abuse I had taken.

You know how race officials always inspect the winner’s car after every stock car race? Well, Mother called me to the house for inspection after whinny-boy cried a few alligator tears.  And, hidin’ behind Mother’s apron strings, he snickered out loud and made goody-goody faces at me when she asked to see my new shooter marble.

The gig was up. I was caught red-handed. It was a short trip from the penthouse to the outhouse! With a stop along the way at the woodshed! After I had to return all the marbles I had won by not playing fair, I never cared too much for the game anymore. Especially after my winning toy was confiscated.

Long story short. The game of marbles we play called life just ain’t fair sometimes. My spell-check is trying to get me to change ain’t to isn’t. But, let’s just face it. Life ain’t always fair. Take the case of our friend Joseph in the 39th chapter of the Book of Genesis.

When he was a young boy, he took a lot of abuse, too. His brothers took his nice jacket and threw him into a gully. Then they pulled him out and sold him into slavery. And then he was taken down to Egypt. I’ll bet there have been some times in your life when you’ve been ‘taken down to Egypt’, too. Am I right? People don’t always play fair. They’ll take all your marbles and laugh at you while they’re doing it.

But God doesn’t promise us that our game of marbles here in earth will be fair. But He does promise us that He’ll keep an eye on the game. And if we play fair, it will be worth it. Have you ever heard somebody say when something wonderful happens, ‘I’m so happy I think I’ve died and gone to Heaven?’ Maybe that’s a sign of why it pays to play fair.

But there are some who get mad and bent out of shape when you do what’s right. And chief among them is that one called Satan. He doesn’t deserve a capital ‘S’ but, once again, my spell-check overrode me.

The Lord was with Joseph and blessed him abundantly while he was living down in Egypt (Gen.39:2). But whatever you do, don’t miss this. When his master saw that the Lord was with Joseph and that the Lord gave him success in everything he did, Joseph was put in charge of everything that Potiphar owned. Lock, stock, and barrel. All the marbles (Gen.39:3-6). And the, up jumped the devil and caused Joseph to be thrown into prison.

Now, this is just me and you can take it for what it’s worth. But it seems to me that if the devil ain’t on our back, we might ought to inspect our game. When we’re not doing what’s right in the eyes of God, the ol’ devil could care less. But when we’re playing fair, watch out! It makes him mad as a settin’ hen!

The devil got a hold on the ‘lady of the house,’ and she tried to get Joseph to break the rules (Gen.39:7-10). He refused to be led astray, stood his ground, and even ran from her one day when she was trying to ‘get her claws into him.’ He ran so fast from evil that she was left holding nothing but his coat. Joseph knew when it was time to get out of Dodge!

But she pitched a hissy-fit, screamed and hollered and yelled. And told a pack of lies which her husband believed. Whose side did you think ol’ Potiphar would take anyway? Don’t you know life ain’t fair? So Joseph went to prison (Gen. 39:11-20).

And here’s something else we can hang our hat on. Even while he was in prison, God rewarded Joseph for his faithfulness. The warden of the prison put Joseph in charge of everything and everyone there. You think it might have been because Joseph chose not to be a whiny cry-baby, not complaining about how unfair life is? Instead, he was like a kid that played fair and square and won all the marbles, anyway. Because God was with Joseph and gave him success in whatever he did (Gen.39:21-23).

So whenever we’re in a hole and think that life just ain’t fair, all we need to do is read  the 39th chapter of Genesis again. Joseph did nothing wrong and got sent to prison anyway. But God was still with him, even in prison. And if we’re still not convinced, just flip over to the 23rd chapter of Luke, verses 44-46. Jesus didn’t deserve to die on that old rugged cross, either. Spotless and without stain, He was still crucified. Life just ain’t fair sometimes.

But hold the phone! Whenever there’s a Friday in your life, just remember Sunday comes three days later. Jesus showed us how to win this game of life and play fair and do what’s right. Check out Luke 24:52, ‘Then they worshipped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.’

Are you still trying to play the game of life without lettin’ Jesus keep an eye on things? What are you thinkin’?

Have you lost your marbles?

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THE PERFECT JOB!

Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

I wonder how many people can say that they’re doing exactly what they always dreamed about and planned on doing in life. What’s that old nursery rhyme – butcher, baker, or candlestick maker? I’ve been told that back in the Old World, your last name was an indication of what kind of job you held.

For instance, if your name was Baker, of course, you baked bread. A boyhood friend, Ronnie Tucker and I used to love the doughnuts at Johnson’s Bakery on South Walnut Street. Wonder why Mr. Johnson wasn’t named Mr. Baker.

Also, back in the old times (my grasp of world history is a little less than magnificent), if your last name was Carter, you probably drove a cart pulled by donkeys or camels. Or mules, if you lived on a farm. So, if you were named Carter, you became a delivery man.

Mr. Miller made his living grinding flour. Mr. Wall was a brick mason. And Mr. Fisher, you guessed it, loved to catch that big mouth bass and bream down at the fish pond.

Now, class, close your books. We’re going to have a little pop quiz. What do you think Mr. Chandler did for a living? If Miss Plyler had given us a question like that back ol’ Seneca High, I would have sat there till time for me to sign up for social security, and still would not have had the answer.

Wanna know what it is? Are you ready for this? If your last name is Chandler, your ancestors were the famous…drum roll, please, ……candlestick maker!  Yep, Chandler comes from chandelier. This one I can handle.  Chandelier, as everybody knows, is what the uppity-ups in France used to call their light fixtures. I wonder if they had a string with a washer on the end of it to turn their chandeliers on and off. Like we had tied to the 40-watt ‘light fixtures’ in the old farmhouse back at Route 4. You could change every light bulb in the whole house with one pack of bulbs. Four rooms, four strings, four bulbs.

Well, I’ve known a few butchers in my time, too. One that comes to mind is a good one. Furman Gibson knew his way around the meat market at the A & P when I was a bag boy there. And it only seemed natural that I would work for the Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company. ‘Cause that’s where Mother and Daddy always went every Saturday morning since I was old enough to remember.

And old enough to get into some kind of trouble while they were gone. Usually at the instigation of one or more of my brothers. Like the time they convinced me that it was OK to ride the mule. Wish I had known at that time that mules are for plowing and pulling. Not for riding. Would have saved me a lot of pain and embarrassment.

But I haven’t worked at the A & P in many moons. Don’t know anybody who does. But that’s where ‘you-know-who’ first saw my baby-blue-and-white, ’57 Ford Fairlane 500, two-door hard-top with fender skirts. Was it me or the car? I’d better get off that side road right now if I know what’s good for me! Anyway, I guess it was meant to be for one of my first jobs to be at the A & P.  

Speaking of jobs, some learned person did one of those scientific studies and came to the conclusion that most people in the workforce today will work for more than five different companies and have more than ten different jobs before they retire. And, again according to the study, it takes about ten years for most folks to find out what they really like to do and have the talent and ability to do.

And once they’ve learned that, they wake up one morning and don’t like their job, or realize that they’re in the wrong job. Back home at Route 4, we’d say they got sideways in a curve on the dirt road of life.

I heard a story about a young guy who, at the age of 17, thought he knew what he would be doing for the rest of his life.  But, like a lot of us, he hit one of those curves, too. In fact, Joe not only got sideways in a curve, he slid off in the ditch. And, life a lot of us country boys, his brothers helped put him in the ditch. Because they were jealous of his nice sport coat.

Life beat Joe up quite a bit while he was in the ditch. Even the people who rescued him shipped him off to a foreign country. But here’s where the story gets good. Joe always kept a good attitude. And when he got out of the ditch, he got a new job.

It was nothing like what he had always thought he’d be doing. But, hey, maybe this was what he was meant to do. And because he kept a good attitude about it, his life took on a completely different meaning. For him and for his family. And he was able to save the lives of many people.

By now, I’m sure you’ve already figured out that I’m talking about Joseph. The one with the coat of many colors. I’ll hit a few highlights here, but if you’ve seen that sign that says ‘curve ahead,’ you might want to study the whole story about Joseph’s life. It’s found in Genesis, chapter 37.

His brothers didn’t like him a lot. In fact, they even wanted to kill him. So one day when their daddy sent little Joe out to check on the boys, they came up with a plan to get even with him for all his dreamin’. They tore his sharp-looking sport coat off of him and threw him in a big hole in the ground. And while they were eatin’ supper, another bunch of guys came by on their way to Egypt.

Little Joe’s life took another curve when his brothers suddenly decided to sell him to these guys going to Egypt. After all, he was their own flesh and blood and they really didn’t want to kill him. So they pulled him out of the hole and sold him for twenty pieces of silver to the guys going to Egypt. And then they even lied to their daddy about what happened to Joseph. And their lies caused a lot of pain and agony in the family.

Joseph’s life, and the job he would eventually have, took even yet another turn once he got to Egypt. But that’s a story for another day. But to say that he never dreamed of doing what he wound up doing is the understatement of the century. Through all the curves in his road and through all the bad stuff that happened to him, God worked His plan. And His plan was for Joseph to get to Egypt so he could eventually save many lives. Including his brothers who had thrown him in the hole to begin with. Every thing that happened in his life was in preparation for God to use Joseph in a mighty way.

Butcher, baker, or candlestick maker – it doesn’t matter what you’re doing right now. God has a plan for all our lives. And the curves we hit on the road of life aren’t what’s important. Curves don’t last forever. It’s what we do when God brings us out of them that counts. He has the perfect job for each and every one of us. Don’t let the curves you have to go through send you flying sideways into the ditch.

Hands on the wheel. Eyes on the road.

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