Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Tire companies used to advertise their “best mud and snow” tires for winter driving. While some parts of the country still need good tire tread for driving in the snow, you hardly ever hear anyone touting the benefits of tires that give traction in the mud. And for good reason. There just aren’t very many dirt roads anymore. Hey, if you’re having trouble finding something to be thankful for, may I suggest that when you’re on your way to or from work today, take a minute and say, “Thank You, Lord, for this paved road.”

Growing up on a dirt road is a different, and sometimes slower, way of life. And that’s not all bad. Paved streets and super highways have helped to usher us into the world we know today where everything and everybody seem to travel at the speed of light.

Back home at Route 4, we learned early on that when it rained, you better slow down when you turn off the tar and gravel and head down the dirt road to the house. One of our many trips to the woodshed stands out vividly in my memory. One rainy day, Oliver had persuaded Daddy to let him borrow the pulpwood truck to go to Junior Stephens’ store. I begged my way on the ride already tasting that bottle of Coke with a pack of peanuts poured into it. Even though I had to stand on a milk crate and shove my hand down into the icy cold water of the drink box, it was always worth the effort!

So Ollie had his RC and Moon Pie, and I had my Coke with peanuts, and we’re loving life as we heading back toward the dirt road and home in the old pulpwood truck at warp speed – probably doing 38 or 39 miles per hour! And then it happened! Turning off the tar and gravel onto the dirt road we lived on, the rain had caused the dirt road to get slick.

When Ollie threw the stick shift up into third gear, the back end of that empty pulpwood truck came around to meet us in the cab! After I had choked on my Coke and peanuts, I looked over at Ollie and he’s grinning from ear to ear! Oh, no, I started to think. But that thought never made it to a sentence before he was gunning the engine! Here we go again from one side of the muddy road to the other, with me begging Ollie at the top of my voice to slow down. The road behind the Gibson’s farm toward our house was a slight downhill grade. But there was a curve at the bottom of the hill that Ollie didn’t factor into this carnival-ride-in-a-pulpwood-truck! Needless to say, trying to turn the steering wheel of an out-of-control pulpwood truck on a slippery, muddy road was useless.

After we came to a stop in the ditch, and both of us had climbed out the window on my side, I let Ollie know that I never wanted to ride with him again! Or something to that effect! But, all he was interested in was being sure we had our stories straight when we got to the house about what we would tell Daddy. What we didn’t know until several years later was that he was sitting on the front porch watching our little joy ride the whole time! I never could understand why I had to be included in that lesson at the shed until I found out that Ollie had told Daddy that I had dared him to see how fast he could go in the mud.

I think about that muddy road every time I read the story of the Israelites walking through the Red Sea on dry ground (Exodus 14:21-31) with a wall of water on their left and their right. The awesome power and life-saving protection of God for his chosen people not only involved dividing the sea, but here’s the amazing part to a dirt-road, country boy. God also dried up the mud that might have thrown the Israelites into the ditch, or at least slowed them down long enough for Pharaoh’s army to catch them!

So, if your road of life is a little muddy and slippery today, and you’re having a hard time holding on to the steering wheel, and you feel like you’re headin’ for the ditch, God just might be trying to slow down your ‘pulpwood truck’ before you have a more serious crash! If you do find the ditch, make some mud pies while you’re there. If He can dry up all the mud under the Red Sea, He surely can take care of that ‘muddy’ situation that’s in front of you today.

And when the Israelites saw the awesome power of God (v.31), they put their trust in Him, and His driver (Moses).

Good advice – even if you’re doing 70 on the interstate!