Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

It was the answer to a Wheel of Fortune puzzle the other night. Phrase was the category. And before Mimi could buy a vowel, I knew what the answer was. ‘Waiting Is The Hardest Part.’ And it was a prize puzzle, too. Those usually involve a trip to some exotic part of the world. Usually. This time the wheel spun its magic and away I went. Not to some white-sand, blue water beach in the Caribbean, but to the banks of the mighty Coneross Creek and the nearby fields and woods of the ol’ home place at Route 4.

To the best of my recollection, it seems like waitin’ was always involved in everything that happened while we were growin’ up on the farm. Our favorite expression was ‘Man, I can’t wait till……’, and you could fill in the blank with a multitude of answers that you’ll never see Vanna turning letters for on The Wheel.

Just like it was yesterday, I can remember gettin’ off the school bus up at the tar-and-gravel main road and walkin’ down the dirt road to the house thinkin’ to myself, ‘I can’t wait till I’m old enough to drive that school bus right down this dirt road and park it in the barnyard.’ And Wade always had eatin’ on his mind. He’d come out with something like ‘I can’t wait to see what Mother’s cookin’ for supper.’ Even though we all knew it was going to be cornbread and milk. Oliver would usually chime in with ‘I can’t wait till I get out of school, get me a paying job, and buy me a car.’

See, we all had our jobs to do. We just didn’t get paid. Well, not with money anyway. What with all the feedin’ and waterin’, plowin’ and plantin’, cuttin’ and totin’, and the gazillion other things that made it necessary for farm folks to have about a dozen kids. I mean, it was as rare as hen’s teeth findin’ an “only-child” farm family.

But anyway, around our place, it didn’t matter what job we had. Whether it was cuttin’ stove wood or drawin’ water or pickin’ blackberries, we’d always somehow find a way to lolly-gag around, waitin’ on this or that or the other. Daddy liked to call us the “W&W Boys,” ‘cause every time he came to check on how we were doing, he’d find us watchin’ the clock and waitin’ on quittin’ time! And that usually won us another all-expenses paid trip to the woodshed for another lecture in his continuing series on the merits of hard work.

And he’d always start off by sayin’, “Boys, my patience is wearin’ thin. While you’re out there watchin’ and waitin’, there needs to be some workin’ going on.” I would liked to have seen how thick his patience was before he and Mother had six boys and three girls! But don’t you think that’s a unique concept? Watchin’ and waitin’ is OK. That means we’re hopin’ and expectin’ something good to happen.

Like smellin’ Mother’s coconut cake in the oven, and thinkin’, “I just can’t wait till it’s done.” But there needs to be some workin’ going on while we’re waitin’ and watchin’. I’m here to tell you, if you hadn’t finished your chores and washed your face and hands, you’d find yourself on the back porch while everybody else is diggin’ in to a big slice of that moist and juicy coconut cake!

So, the more I think about it, the more I’m believin’ that the Wheel puzzle hit the nail on the head. Workin’ is not the hardest part. It’s the waitin’. And don’t you just know that the Lord’s patience is wearin’ thin? I mean, He’s told us how wonderful Heaven’s gonna be. No more pain, no more tears, no more grief, no more evil, no more dark, no more tired, ol’ wore-out bodies. For over two thousand years, Jesus has been gettin’ that place ready.

And all we have to do is believe Him and trust Him and obey Him and get a little work done while we’re waitin’ and watchin’ for the good stuff. If I told you that next Sunday you and everybody you know are invited to our house for all the cornbread and green beans, fried chicken, saw mill gravy over cat head biscuits, corn on the cob, and apple cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream for dessert, do you think you could draw a crowd? Would you tell anybody about it?

Likewise, it’s not hard work to tell somebody how good Jesus has been to us. The hardest part is waitin’ till all the good stuff is ready!  So, maybe, we just need to give ourselves a little check-up from the neck up. Like David did in his 27th Psalm, verses 13-14. He reminded himself (and us) that no matter how rough things get, he will see all the good stuff that God has waitin’ for us.

But here’s what’s tough for us humans to understand sometimes. God is so patient because He wants every single person he has ever created to come Home with Him after ‘church’ is over down here. I heard somebody ask a question the other day about ‘this ol’ world.’ They said, ‘How much longer do you think God’s gonna let this go on?’ I wanted to say, ‘I’m not the one baking the cake.’ God’s a whole lot smarter than I am. He made it all and when He’s ready, He’ll call time.

Till then, we just gotta do what David said in verse 14. Be strong, be encouraged, and wait for the Lord. And get to work tellin’ everybody we know how good it’s gonna be. And how much Jesus loves every one of us. And how He promised to come get us when the places are all set around the banquet table.

And even though the waitin’ is hard, David offers proof that it’s worth it. Check out his evidence in Psalm 40:1-3. Because he waited patiently for the Lord, he was lifted out of the muck and mud and given a rock to stand on and a new song to sing along with the heavenly choir, just praising God for all his goodness.

For somebody who’s never been able to carry a tune in a water bucket, that’s exciting to me! I’ve always wanted to sing bass in the choir. Now I know I’ll get my chance.

I just can’t wait!