Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

I really wasn’t shopping for shoes. I was just taking a shortcut through the shoe department to get to the restroom as quickly as possible. Have you ever wondered about the so-called experts who tell us that we need to drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day? Anyway, something caught my eye, but I was in a big-time hurry, if you catch my drift. So I made a mental note to come back to the shoe department later and check it out.

Upon closer examination, I discovered that what had caught my eye was a small tab sticking up out of every box of men’s work shoes. In big, bold letters, it literally screamed at anyone passing through the shoe department – STEEL TOES!!!

And, in the blink of an eye, that little 2-inch tab gave me a wheelbarrow ride back down that familiar ol’ dirt road to Route 4, Seneca, SC. Life on a farm in the 50’s dictated what you wore on your feet. I know you’ve probably seen pictures of country boys runnin’ around barefooted with their fishin’ pole on their shoulder.

That’s not exactly how it played out in real life. I never liked going barefooted. And still don’t even today. Call me a tender foot, if you like, but those rusty nails, tree roots, and sharp rocks can make life miserable for a farm boy with no shoes. Not to mention snakes and spiders and lizards when you went to the woods.

That guy on the tv commercial might not have ever left home without his credit card, but for me, I didn’t leave the ol’ farmhouse unless my brogans were laced up tight. Metal clips and all. Even if we were just goin’ skinny-dippin’ in Coneross Creek, we still wore our brogans to get there. You never know, you just might step on a copperhead sunning himself on the creek bank.   

So it was with not-so-fond memories of farm footwear that I decided to come back later. I would like to try on a pair of those size 10-and-a-half work boots with STEEL TOES!! When I wasn’t drinkin’ 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. Don’t think it would have been cool to be seen hurrying through electronics and automotive in my socks!

No matter what kind of job you’re doing, it pays to have the right kind of shoes on your feet. That’s why I don’t understand the thinkin’ behind this new wave of footwear called flip-flops. It seems like everywhere I go people are shufflin’ around with a piece of rubber held on their feet with a strap wrapped around their big toes. I guess there aren’t any copperheads or tree roots where they’re goin’. Can you just imagine shimmin’ up a pine tree to pick muscadines with flip-flops on your feet?

So it is with a reasonable degree of confidence that I can say that I never saw any flip-flops around the farm. I bet they didn’t even have any on the mill hill, either. But I know one mill-hill girl that’s got a slew of ‘em. I mean, a different color to match whatever she’s wearin’. Pink, green, blue, gold, brown, red – you name any color you want, and chances are pretty good you’ll find flip-flops in that color her closet. And I guess that’s OK if you’re just shufflin’ around. Or casual wear, as they call it in today’s fashion world.

But there are some jobs where you just don’t want your toes hangin’ out there in the open. Take, for instance, when I was runnin’ my weed eater. My old one just had one little string, and I could step on it and choke the motor down. But this new, high-powered one has a string comin’ out both sides. And it goes about a gazillon miles an hour! I sure wouldn’t be caught runnin’ that thing wearin’ flip flops.

I usually just wear a pair of ol’ worn-out discolored sneakers when I do yard work. But a recent experience with a wide-open weed eater leads me to believe that I probably ought to go back to the store and try on those ten-and-a-halfs with STEEL TOES. Especially since that sneaker that I had on my left foot now looks like a flip flop after an up close and personal encounter with the weed eater! But no harm, no foul. Lesson learned. Dangerous jobs require protective shoes firmly planted and sturdy. After all, when your feet start slippin’ and slidin’, you’re probably goin’ down.

The Apostle Paul knew somethin’ about wearin’ the right kind of equipment. Especially when you take on the devil and all his schemes. Paul advised the early Christians (and us) that we always need to wrap ourselves in the strength and power of the Lord (Ephesians 6:10-18). He compared God’s power to a suit of armor. And part of that armor is some heavy-duty work boots that allow us to ‘stand our ground’ and be the one ‘still standing’ after goin’ to battle with the devil. Or as Paul says in v.15, with our feet firmly grounded in the gospel.

This is just me, but I don’t think flip flops, in any color, go well with a suit of armor. I mean, helmets and belts and swords and breastplates aren’t much help if the devil knocks you off your feet. So, if we feel ourselves slippin’ and slidin’ in the face of his evil schemes, tricks, lies, and temptations, just lace up the work boots with STEEL TOES and give him a swift kick back to where he came from. Standing firm for Jesus in a world gone mad is no place for flip flops and sneakers.

Got your boots on?

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