Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Do you ever make notes to yourself? You know, those little squares of yellow sticky scrap paper that we write on so that we don’t forget something important? Around our house, we have them stuck everywhere. Right now I’m looking at a couple on the computer monitor. They’re also on the fridge and on the bathroom mirror. And I have them all over the dash in my car. Just little mental, string-around-the-finger reminders of things that I don’t want to forget. Stuck in places that I’ll most likely see at least once a day. Like phone numbers, doctors’ appointments, grocery lists and passwords. Oh, don’t let me go down that side road. I have more passwords than Carter has little liver pills. Can’t possibly remember them all!

Why is it, you think, that we’ve created a whole industry dedicated to our bad memory? I can remember the aroma of Mother’s cornbread settlin’ over the kitchen at supper time like the morning dew on the grass in the pasture. And that’s been almost 60 years ago. But I can’t remember a phone number or appointment that I made three days ago. I don’t remember ever seein’ any sticky notes around the ol’ farmhouse back home at Route 4. Or in the hall of the barn where we spent a lot of time doing morning and nighttime chores. Were they there and I just don’t remember seein’ them?

I guess the experts would chalk it up to diminished capacity due to advancing age. My Route 4 translation of that is trying to put a ten-gallon load in a five-gallon bucket. I’ve even heard about people who have phenomenal memories. They can remember what they ate for breakfast on the 14th day of April in 1963. Or what the weather was like on the opening day of baseball in 1978. I wonder if folks like that have ever forgotten where they put their glasses or their keys. Maybe not.

But I don’t know if that’s a blessing or a curse. Looking back down the dirt road of life, I’m thankful at times that the Lord has given us the blessing of forgetfulness. And I think it truly is a blessing to be able to let some things just slide right on down the river like a piece of driftwood floatin’ down Coneross Creek. Forget the bad, remember the good. That’s what I’m talkin’ about! But that brings up an interesting question that’s been bouncin’ around in the sawdust between my ears lately.

How can we keep from forgettin’ something good? And I have a perfect example. In one of our recent visits to the woodshed, we were recallin’ the memory of crumblin’ up Mother’s hot cornbread in a tall glass of ice cold buttermilk and eatin’ it with a spoon. Before the cornbread could get cold. Man, oh, man, I am so thankful I can still remember that.

And, judgin’ from my email inbox, many of you have not forgotten those sweet times, either. Betty from West Union remembers, without a sticky note, times when you didn’t need a menu at the supper table. It was cornbread and milk. And nothing else. And she was glad to get it! Cindy from Seneca remembers cornbread and buttermilk, but loves the Bread of Life even more. And my boyhood buddy, Ralph from Return, asked a question that I’ve wondered many times. How in the world, Ralph said, could anybody turn up their nose at buttermilk, but still bite the stem off boiled okra and let it ooze down their throat like mud between your barefoot toes after a summer rain? Amen, Ralph, Amen. And a thousand times, Amen!

And Jim from Florida, by way of Route 3, Westminster, still likes to drown his cornbread in a Mason jar full of buttermilk. And grab a spoon while the cornbread is still warm! But it was Jim who reminded me of somethin’ about cornbread that I hope I never completely forget. In a word, cracklin. As in cracklin cornbread. Take me to the woodshed! How in the world could I have forgotten about that farm boys’ delight!  If you put a bowl of crackling cornbread with buttermilk alongside a bowl of homemade peach ice cream and told me to pick one, I’d be in trouble. I’d have to do some quick thinkin’ to figure out a way to have both of ‘em! Thanks, Jim, for that reminder. Gotta get to the store today and get a new supply of sticky notes. If I can remember to do it! Some things you just never want to forget.

I believe everybody ought to have plenty of sticky notes on hand ‘cause we’re just human beings. And human beings just plain ‘blow it’ sometimes! Even Moses, that tablet-totin’ man of God, could have used ‘em. Before this day is over, grab your Bible and add Deuteronomy, Chapter 8 to your daily Bible readin’. This is just me, but I think it speaks to the heart of the problems that we have in the world today, both as individuals and as a nation.

Moses had been leadin’ the Israelites as they wandered around in the desert for forty years after God brought ‘em out of Egypt. Now that was the most forgetful bunch of folks I have ever heard about! Here they were, free from hard-time slavery down in Egypt, let out of jail with a trail guide sent by the Lord to lead them to the Promised Land. If he could have, Moses would have put a sticky note on every cactus in the desert!

The first one would have been what he said in verse 2 as he cautioned them to remember that God had been with them everywhere they had gone for those 40 years. And there were times when they were humbled and tested. God just wanted to see what they were made of to see if they could remember to keep His commandments when they got to the Promised Land. Does that sound familiar to you and me? Sometimes when we’re walkin’ in the valley of the shadow, the devil gets happy when we start thinkin’ that God has forgotten where we live. Check your shoe shine. Mine just got scuffed up.

Moses must have felt like he was trying to herd a bunch of cats. Every time he thought they were going in the right direction, they’d wander off somewhere else. Check out verse 4. Another sticky note from Moses. He told ‘em they didn’t even need a J. C. Penny or Sears and Roebuck out there in the desert ‘cause they wore the same clothes for 40 years! I can just imagine they had a dire need for some Tide or Shout-it-Out, but their clothes never wore out. And they didn’t need any of those motorized shopping carts with a seat and a basket like we see at the store. Their feet never swelled up the whole time they were walking around in the desert! That’s a miracle right there by itself.

Check out verses 10-18 for several more Moses sticky notes. He told ‘em that when they had their belly full in the Promised Land, be sure to praise the Lord for all the good stuff and don’t forget about Him by failing to remember His commandments. Have we been blessed with so much abundance that we get the big-head and forget about Who provides every good thing in life?

More sticky notes, please. If we’re not careful, gettin’ satisfied and sassy will open the door of our heart and let pride walk right in. And when we get proud, we start forgettin’ about Who got us through the dark days and nights while we were in that ‘dry and thirsty land’ filled with snakes and scorpions and a multitude of other bad stuff.

Moses probably would have written DANGER and BEWARE on his sticky notes found in verses 19-20. He told ‘em (and us) if they ever forget God, they’d be history. And like all the nations (individuals and countries) before our time that forgot about God and were destroyed, the same thing will happen to you and me and our nation if we don’t obey the Lord our God.

Do you have one more sticky note? Make it one of those big ones. And let’s all write H-O-P on it and stick it up everywhere we go. Humility. Obedience. Praise. A reminder to thank the Lord for all He has done, is doing, and will do for us. I’m all out of sticky notes now, so I’m going to HOP on over to the store and pick up a new supply. There’s one more reminder that I need to stick up on my mirror, my monitor, and my mind.

Without the Bread of Life, we’re just burnt toast!