Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Have you ever seen a sign in a department store that read “All Loafers and Sneakers Half-Price?” That one caused a mental double-take. Was it referring to people or shoes? Flipping back through the pages of life at Route 4, you definitely didn’t want to get caught ‘loafing’ or ‘sneaking.’ As in these words of warning. “Boys, there’s entirely too much loafing going on around here.” Or how about this one – “Don’t let me catch you sneaking around the kitchen after supper if you don’t clean up every bite on your plate.” And these words of warning always came in a tone that made you know it wasn’t just a suggestion.

But let’s talk about shoes, not people. I don’t remember a day in life on the farm that I ever wore a pair of loafers or sneakers! Never heard of ‘em till one day in high school some city-slicker mentioned something about getting some new Bass Weejuns. And then I thought it was some new kind of small-mouth fish in Grandpa Martin’s (Granny to us) fish pond! See, we knew about bass and bream down at the pond, but they were mostly large-mouth bass.

But when I found out they were shoes, I almost had a laughing fit! Try to zoom in and focus on this picture – you’re tromping through the woods; or wading across Johnson’s Branch; or playing Kick The Rock – and you have something on your feet called sneakers or loafers! I don’t think so. Nope, from the time we learned which was the business end of a mule, we wore BROGANS!  Just the name sounds like something connected to hard work, as in “Boys, lace those brogans up tight, we’ve got work to do today.”

Here’s another photographic image that’s missing from my Route 4 memory album. I don’t think, no, I’m positive that I never saw Daddy in a Hawaiian shirt. And I don’t think he ever went to the field to plow or to the woods to cut firewood wearing shorts and flip-flops. Different jobs require different styles of work clothes, right? Some folks wear suits and ties. Others wear denim jeans, hard hats, brogans and gloves. Some only need casual slacks and pull-over shirts.

Billy Cauthen, one of my best friends (and I’ve been blessed by knowing a bunch of characters!) grew up in Mayberry. Or pretty close to it, in Mt. Holly, North Carolina. Billy’s working life began as a welder for a nuclear power company. Do you think Billy got up every day, put on his Bermudas (not with those legs!) and t-shirt that Robin had picked out for him, and went off to work welding some more steel beams? I don’t think so.

Work in the real world, whether it’s at Route 4 or in the steel factory, requires full-body protection. Likewise, in order to be a strong Christian and stand up to the forces of evil (put a ‘d’ on that word) in the world today, we need to wear work clothes that Paul calls the full armor of God (Eph. 6:10-18). The belt of truth, says Paul, must be buckled tightly around your waist to hold up the protective gear. I feel sorry every time I see a youngster without a belt and his britches hanging around his knees, because I know he’s in danger of tripping up, falling down, busting his head open, or messing up his face! Around the waist, that’s where the belt goes.

Policemen and baseball catchers know about the next piece of armor that Paul talks about – the breastplate of righteousness. There’s a reason why policemen don’t wear their bulletproof vests around their knees. And catchers don’t wear their chest protectors on their back. It’s called guarding your heart! Then Paul talks about wearing the right kind of shoes (v.15). Brogans, combat boots, call ‘em what you want, but if the devil can pull your feet out from under you, the war is over. Belt, breastplate, boots – critical pieces of the armor of God.

Next, Paul describes the shield of faith to knock down the devil’s flaming arrows, the helmet of salvation (you don’t play football without a helmet!), and the sword of the Spirit. That’s the notebook that holds our Game Plan. You’ll recognize it by the title on the front cover – Holy Bible!

And now that the full armor is protecting the body, Paul describes what must go on inside our heads at ALL times (occasions) – pray with ceasing, stay alert, and pray some more! And, twice in these verses, Paul urges us to put on the ‘full armor’ of God. All of it, not just the helmet or the shoes or the belt. If you want to be left standing when the fight is over, you need it all.

 What kind of work clothes do you wear? Like Daddy always said about five o’clock every morning back at Route 4, “OK, boys, play time is over. It’s time to go to work.”