Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Sometimes I just can’t help but be flabbergasted  by modern technology! Can I give you a ‘for instance?’ My friend, John Head and his crew were doing some much-need work at our house the other day when they stopped to rest and get a drink of water. John and I started discussing how we drank water back home at Route 4. I can see what you’re thinking right now. You’re about three rows in front of me already, and you’re absolutely right! 

Ice cold water in plastic bottles! Buckle your seat belts, ladies and gentlemen, it’s pedal to the metal on this time-travel machine. Quicker than you can say ‘giddy-up, mule,’ I’m standing beside Johnson’s branch watching brother Wade show all us brothers the art of lying on our belly beside the branch and lapping up that cold, pure, fresh branch water.

And since today is his birthday, I might as well admit, he was good at it! When it came to plowing a mule or milking a cow, he might not have been at the head of the class. And speaking of mules, Wade just did not care for those beasts of burden. We had always been told NOT to try to ride a mule. As Daddy always said, mules are made for plowing, not for prancing around the Kentucky Derby! Well, one Saturday morning when Mother and Daddy had gone to the A & P Store for a few groceries, guess what we decided to do?

Right again! It’s time to start training for the afore-mentioned Derby. Now, hit the auto-focus button on your mental Kodak. Here we are, five country boys in the barnyard with an old mule that wouldn’t move fast if you set his tail on fire. A point of information here is in order for all city-slickers. A barnyard is not a soft place. In fact, as I learned, it was as hard as the tar and gravel up on the main road that our dirt road ran into. 

Since Ollie was the older of this Hee-Haw Barnyard Five (I think George had joined the Air Force), he decided that he would hold the old warhorse’s bridle while Eddie and Wendell held the milking stool for me to stand on while I mounted my future Preakness winner! I should have known something was up when Wade didn’t have an assignment. He did, in fact have one, as I learned in short order.

As soon as I swung one leg over the mule’s back, Wade raised his open hand like a race starter, took his best home run swing and smacked the mule’s rear end. The last thing I remember seeing as I hit that hard barnyard ground and had my breath taken away was the business end of that mule going lickekty-split through the woods behind the barn with Wade trying to keep up with it hollering at the top of his lungs “Whoa, boy, Whoa, Whoa.!” When Daddy and Mother got home from the A & P, suffice it to say that we had a group session at the woodshed that day! Life, indeed, is not about the number of breaths you take, but about the number of moments that take your breath away. That was a breath-taker!

Meanwhile, back at the branch. On those scorching hot July and August days in the field when you could cough up dust balls, Daddy would say, ‘Take a water break, boys.’ You’d think ol’ Wade had stepped on a yellow-jacket nest as he made a bee-line for the branch like he was chasing that run-away mule. He couldn’t drink it dry but that didn’t stop him from trying! Now, hit the fast forward button. Fifty years later, there’s so much stuff in the water, it has to be purified and put into plastic bottles! And the label always reads “Pure Spring Water.” I wish it would say “Ice Cold Branch Water.”  Probably couldn’t get two bucks for it at the game, though, if that was on the label.

The only water that was colder and better than the branch was at the well. And when the end of the plowed row was closer to the well than the branch, this meeting was held at the well with a bucket and a dipper.  And, it was during those water breaks at the well that we learned to appreciate what it meant to have our thirst quenched. And it didn’t come in plastic bottle.

Whenever I think about that old well back at the farm, I’m reminded of one of my favorite stories from the Bible. I guess I like it so much because it’s about drawing water. Yes, drawing water is in the Bible! Look it up. It’s in the gospel of John, chapter 4. Jesus was tired from his work so He sat down one day about dinner time at Jacob’s well. Daddy always believed that there was nothing wrong with being tired and he proved it in our minds! Anyway, it’s about twelve noon and while Jesus was resting, a woman came up to draw some water. There it is. Right there in verse 7!

After a discussion about their different countries and customs, Jesus told the woman that He could give her a drink of water that was so good and pure, she would never be thirsty again!

She couldn’t imagine that, either. All she could think about was how deep the well was, and how Jesus didn’t have anything to draw the water with, and did He think He was better than Jacob who gave them the well. Jesus was offering her a drink from a Spring that will never run dry and all she could think about was how He was going to draw it up from the well!

The world is so full of thirsty people who have never met Jesus at the well. And, like the woman at the well, they don’t have a clue about what He can do!  And after He’s touched our lips with the Dipper holding the Water of Life, we’re not to take a bath in it. No, it’s our duty and privilege to share it with other thirsty travelers along the dusty, dirt road of life.

Remember, the Dead Sea is in that condition because it has no outlet. It’s water is stagnant and un-fulfilling. On the other hand, the Sea of Galilee is alive and vibrant because it’s water continuously flows out. Let’s all get under the Spout where the Glory comes out!