Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

On a recent visit to the shed, we talked about the three p’s of life at Route 4 – plowin’, plantin’, and pickin.’ And how lots of folks like to pick the red-ripe, juicy ‘maters, but the crowd dwindles down when it’s time to go to work in the garden plowing and planting.

And, from all the comments and discussions we’ve had about the three p’s, it’s obvious that many of you have also spent time in the garden. Including my friend, Michael, who I’m not sure could find the business end of a mule if he had a GPS locator.

Another friend, John, remembers getting up at five am, putting on your shoes while sitting on the wood box beside the cook stove, feeding and watering all the animals, bringing in the water and wood, and all this before breakfast, was not always the most pleasant experience. And then you go plowin’ and plantin’ from sun-up to sun-down before it’s time to do the evening chores all over again. Like the bumper sticker I once saw that said ‘A bad day fishing always tops a good day at work.’

But Daddy always reminded us how lucky we were when it was pickin’ time in the garden. And how those hungry little kids in China would be glad to trade places with us and do all our work with a smile on their face if they could have what we had at the supper table! I wasn’t very much on world geography at the time, and wondering out loud how long it would take for them to get from China to Route 4 prompted a woodshed experience for me right there in the middle of the pole beans and squash!

But as so many of you have pointed out, going to work in the garden back home on the farm had many comparisons to going to work today. Just what is it that makes some people smile and whistle while they work, while others act like they’re about to step in something that smells bad? I know that bunch of country boys and girls who called Route 4 home back in the fifties could come up with some amazing excuses to try to avoid the work at hand. Daddy used to say that a couple of us wouldn’t work in a pie factory. I won’t call any names, but when he looked straight at me and Wade while he was talking, I persuaded Wade to ask him what kind of pies the factory was making. I was ready to volunteer if they were making pecan or sweet potato pie! The woodshed was running a two-for-one special that day!

This is just me talking, but is it possible that the “IT” we’re looking for here – that little something that makes some people actually enjoy going to work in the garden of life where they’ve been planted – could be traced back to our attitude? Work is a four-letter word. On that we all agree. Sure it’s hard sometimes. Sure it’s tough sometimes. Sometimes the dragon, a.k.a. boss, has flames coming from his nostrils. Maybe he’s been scorched by his dragon.

In this world of profit-loss statements, economic depression, angry customers, lost jobs, dwindling 401-k’s, exorbitant prices, budget blow-outs, and other things that ‘don’t smell good when you step in them,’ Is there such a thing as a PERFECT JOB?

There once was a man who indeed had a perfect job. And here’s what makes me smile – it was in a garden! All he had to do was work it and take care of it. He didn’t have to do the plowing’ and plantin’! All he had to do was the pickin’. And this garden was a beauty. It had lush trees, all the fruit and vegetables he could ever hope to eat – the original all-you-can-eat buffet! It had flowing rivers to water the garden. He never had to tote water from the creek to water his corn! He didn’t even have rocks in his garden – only gold and onyx! And only one rule. Can you imagine having a job where there was only one rule? Yep, ol’Adam had the perfect job – just take care of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8-17). And don’t eat the apples from that one tree. But then he ‘stepped in it.’

Like many of us in the working world today, Adam lost his focus. Instead of understanding how good he really had it, and accepting what he had to do in the garden where he had been planted, he took his eyes off how good he really had it at work, and starting wondering ‘what if.’

What if I had this, or what if I had that, what if I had a better job, what if I was smarter and had more degrees. The list can be as long as your arm when we lose the ability to be happy where we’re planted. Work hard every day and be happy. Could that be the “it” that so many people are missing in today’s workplace. After all the first part of that word is work. Even in that pie factory that Daddy talked about, there was still work that had to be done.

Our time in the garden of life is but a few days. Accepting this fact and being happy at having work to do, in spite of difficulties that might crop up, is a precious gift from God. He gave Adam everything that he could possibly need to be happy in the garden except one thing. There was one thing Adam had to bring to the garden himself. And that was his attitude about the garden.

With “it,” he could have had the perfect job forever.