Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

After getting’ home from church last night, I once again began my ‘test-pilot’ routine. I quickly went through the checklist. A good pilot always goes through his checklist before every flight. Being a test-pilot for Lazy-Boy is no different. Warm blanket, plenty of snacks, remote control. We’re ready for take-off. Sometimes known as kick-off in the world of college football.

Climbing into the seat of my favorite ‘space craft,’ I gave the joy-stick control one quick maneuver. Feet up. Head back. And away we go! Off to the Land of Dreams. I was a little woozy from the high-altitude flight. It wasn’t very long before the auto-pilot kicked in.  Somewhere over Nashville, Tennessee, I think, towards the end of the first quarter as my Clemson Tigers met the Kentucky Wildcats in the Music City Bowl.

Is it just me, or does it seem to you also that the best sleep we get is in the recliner before we go to bed? Anyway, sometime later, there was enough oxygen left in the cabin to rouse me to a semi-conscious state at half-time. Thank goodness, the auto-pilot was still engaged. All the yada-yada-yada quickly sent me flying away again!

I woke up at the end of the ‘flight’ just in time to watch it happen. The Water Bucket Bath. If you’ve watched more than two or three football games, you’ve seen it happen. Just a few seconds before the final whistle, the winning coach is ‘occupied’ by two or three of his players while the ‘bucket brigade’ sneaks up behind him. And deposits the icy contents of the bucket on the head coach’s head! Whoever came up with that idea must have been dropped on his head while he was a baby!

Actually that happened a lot to a bunch of farm boys growing up at Route 4. And it was a lot of fun. Most of the time it was about 98 degrees or somewhere close to that. And it usually happened on a late Saturday afternoon. When it was absolutely necessary before getting’ ready for Sunday School the next morning!

But watchin’ that happen to Clemson Coach Dabo Swinney last night was painful! With the clock rushing toward midnight, the thermometer hovering around the freezing mark, and a cold wind blowing through the Tennessee hills, why did Dabo seem to be wearing spring-loaded shoes? Why was he jumpin’ and shoutin’ and smilin’ from ear to ear?

This is just me talking now, ‘cause I’ve never had that kind of bucket bath in those conditions. But I think it was because of a little, three-letter word. JOY! It was the beginning of a much-awaited and longed-for victory celebration for the coach and the team.

And even as painful as it seemed to have the bitterly cold contents of the bucket running down his back under his collar, it would have taken a brick mason three days to get the smile off Dabo’s face!

Pain and joy. An apt description of a celebration that occurred over two thousand years ago. We’ve just celebrated the birth of Jesus on that cold Bethlehem night so long ago. Think about Mary’s pain. A scared teenage girl giving birth in a barn. A long way from home with nobody but Joseph and the animals around her. The angels were singing to the shepherds out in the fields, but Mary was enduring a natural childbirth of the Supernatural Baby there in the stable. No anesthesia. No spinal block. No pain medication of any kind. Only you ladies can fully appreciate Mary’s pain.

But when she held that Bundle of Joy in her arms, wrapped in strips of cloth, again you ladies can also appreciate the joy that must have raced through her veins to replace her pain. After all, the angel had promised that her baby would be called ‘the Son of the Most High,’ (Luke 1:32).

Thirty-three years later, Mary’s joy would again turn to excruciating pain as she watched her Son being beaten, whipped, spat upon, and nailed to that old rugged cross, with a spear thrust into His side and His life blood running to the ground. But He endured that death by crucifixion without pain medication of any form for one reason. He left the glory of Heaven to come to the garbage of earth to make a way for you and me to join Him in celebration when the game is over.

And what a day that will be! I think there’s going to be a lot of jumpin’ and shoutin’. But I don’t think there’ll be any ice water bucket baths. He has promised that there’ll be no more pain at His Victory Party.

I wouldn’t miss it for the world!