Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

The Annual Rite of the Deep-Fried Turkey has reminded me of another one of the seven senses. This one is the sense of touch. Before the ol’ bird makes it to the dinner table, there’s a lot of prep time. If you get a frozen one, it takes about two weeks to thaw it out. And once he’s soft and succulent, the countdown begins. That’s at least 24 hours before TE (turkey eatin’) Day.

The first step is the ‘wash and rinse’ cycle. No dirty birds allowed. That gobbler would be amazed at how clean he becomes before he turns golden brown in the boiling peanut oil. But let’s don’t get ahead of ourselves. Before the golden brown stage, and prior to the MOM (Moment of Marinade), while he’s still raw, white, and slick, there’s one little activity in the TCP (Turkey Cooking Process) that I’ve never been able to get Helen to participate in. It involves the sense of touch. 

No matter how much I beg, plead, invite, coerce, bribe, or threaten, there is absolutely no way I’ve ever been able to get her to stick her hand up inside that gobbler and pull out the ‘giblet’ bag. I don’t believe she’d put her hand in there if she knew that she could pull out a hundred dollar bill along with the giblets! 

I tell her that new experiences would broaden her horizon. She tells me that she’s perfectly happy with her horizon just the way it is. I try every year. And every year the same result. All I hear is the closing and locking of the bedroom door. And she won’t come out until her taste buds are tingled by the aroma of the afore-mentioned hot peanut oil bath.

But I can’t complain. There are some things that I’d rather not touch, too. Growing up on the farm, I’d run like a deer when one of my brothers (the names are omitted to protect the guilty!) pulled a slick and slimy, wart-producing,  green frog out of the pocket of his overall britches and tried to hand it to me!

That thing would never be in my pocket in the first place. Frogs like to hop from lily pad to lily pad down at Granny Martin’s fish pond. And I’d never seen him put one in his pocket and bring it to the house! But that didn’t stop my brothers from trying. No matter how many times they were ‘rewarded’ with a trip to the woodshed.

I think it’s safe to say that our sense of touch is as delicate as the wings of a butterfly. That’s true, not only in a physical sense, but also in the spiritual sense. I’m thinking of the touch of the itty-bitty hand of a newborn baby wrapping around one of your fingers. Or a friend’s hand taking yours in comfort during difficult times. Or that moment in a wedding when the bride and groom take turns placing that band of gold on each other’s hand.

We all touch each other’s lives in so many ways every day. Some known and some unknown. Sometimes it’s just a smile or a handshake that brightens the day. Maybe a kind word or a hand-written note or a phone call. Goodness knows, we’ve been touched so many times by your responses to our daily trips to the woodshed!

How many of us can remember with clarity the touch of special teachers, preachers, parents, grandparents, friends, and others whose touch left an indelible print on our lives? And that touch can be as gracious and tender as my Grandma Martin insisting that this country boy read her Bible to her from cover to cover, including the maps! Or it can be a tough and painful, but still a teaching touch, like those many trips to the woodshed! Like a life-long friend, who took a class or two at Woodshed University, remarked to us the other day, isn’t it a shame that, for the most part, that ‘old schoolhouse’ no longer exists today.

But as ambassadors for Christ, we are duty-bound to keep on touchin’. Even when the ‘touchee’ is like that frozen turkey. Sometimes the ‘thawing’ process won’t happen overnight. And even when the thaw is complete, we still need to tenderize the subject by injecting the life-changing ‘marinade’ of the Joy of Jesus. And what goes into that marinade is the way that we treat others by what we say, think, and do. As Jesus himself said, “By this the world will know that you are Mine.”

Many times it’s more than doctors and medicine that bring about healing in our lives. In Matthew’s gospel, we see the saving touch of the hand of Jesus when Peter got out of the boat and went walking on the water toward Jesus (Matthew 14:29-31). And a couple of verses later (Matthew 14:35-36), we see the healing touch of the Savior, “people brought all their sick to Him and begged Him to let the sick just TOUCH the edge of His cloak, and ALL who TOUCHED Him were healed.”

And who can forget Jesus’ healing of the man with leprosy (Mark 1:41). “Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man….and immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.”

I love that old song that Bill Gaither wrote almost fifty years ago. You might have heard it a time or two. He touched me, O, He touched me, and, O, the joy that floods my soul; something happened and now I know, He touched me and made me whole.

Through the power of the One who touched our lives, you and I have the ability, in Thanks-living for His touch, to reach out and touch others. But here’s the rub.

Sometimes we gotta be willing to ‘stick our hand in the frozen turkeys’ of the world!