Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

It seems that I have a new lady friend. Let me hasten to add that my mill-hill bride is not the least bit concerned about this new relationship of mine. In fact, it’s not a relationship that I encouraged. It just happened while I was doing a favor for another lady friend.
Before you think that I’ve overdosed on collard greens and hog jowls, let me see if I can make some sense of this situation.
My new lady friend’s name is Domino. I know what you’re thinking – it is a rather unusual name for a girl – and I agree. I don’t even know how, when, where, or why this lovable 55-pound, female, part-Lab, part something else, puppy with a honey-colored fur coat, was given such a name.
Our favorite puppy growing up back home on the farm was named Tippy. Good name, don’t you think, for a black cocker spaniel with a white patch on each paw. And, man, did this country boy have a good relationship with that dog! And it probably wasn’t because I always fed him my boiled okra through the knothole under the kitchen table while Daddy was saying the blessing!
No, it probably was because Tippy was by our side everywhere we went. Barnyard, fish pond, creek, garden, and even at the woodshed, if you saw one of us country boys, you’d see Tippy right there at our side.
But back to the main road. Domino’s name could have something to do with how happy Domino is to see me, greeting me with tail-waggin’ enthusiasm and trying to hug my neck with her front paws. If I’m not prepared, she could knock over a bunch of dominos with her leap. But Domino it is, and Domino it shall remain.
Domino, however, hasn’t always been so happy to see me. My relationship with this canine lady has developed rather quickly. When you consider that two weeks ago, her greeting for me was a window-shakin’ bark and a teeth-baring snarl. And that kind of greeting made me happy for the chain link fence that separated us. But that was before we got to know each other.
It was only after I reached out to Domino, mind you, with some reservations, that her whole demeanor changed. And now I have her eatin’ out of my hand. Literally. She doesn’t even seem to mind that her daily meds for a serious physical problem are included in the treats she carefully eats out of my hand.
Two weeks ago, I might have needed the skills of an orthopaedic surgeon if I had held out my hand to Domino. Now, she just knows that, along with the medicated treats, she’s going to get her head rubbed and her jaws scratched. And her daily all-you-can-eat servings of food and water.
And you know what? Sometimes I think those of us in the human species are a lot like Domino, my four-legged friend. With all due respect to whoever came up with the title of man’s best friend, I’m just wonderin’ if maybe the world might be a better place if we all tried to be a man who IS a best friend to the hurtin’, helpless, and hopeless that we encounter on this dusty dirt road of life. At one time or another, we’ve all been in, or headin’ toward, or comin’ out of one of those categories.
Don’t raise your hands, but how many times have we written someone off when one of our perfunctory little ‘hey, how yawl doin’ greetings have been answered with a teeth-baring snarl? Like Domino the dog, maybe they just need a little jaw-scratchin’ and headrubbin’ to change their whole outlook on life.
Call it stress. Call it pressure. Call it this dog-eat-dog world we live in. Call it what you want. But there are lost souls behind those chain-link fences that the world builds. And maybe we just need a treat that we haven’t had in a long time. Maybe we just need someone to hold out a hand. Notice I didn’t say a hand-out. I said hold out our hand of friendship.
The model for a perfect friend can be found in Proverbs 18:24. There is a friend who’ll walk with you when it seems like everyone else is walking on you. And His name is Jesus. He’ll stick with you like white sticks to flour. He has all kinds of ‘treats’ in His hand. And that’s the kind of friend He calls on you and me to be. To paraphrase the country church sign, the best vitamin for a friend is B1!
The greatest treasure in the world is to have Jesus for our friend. And the second greatest treasure is to share Him with someone upon whose face life has produced a snarl. But to share that kind of life-changing treat, we have to be willing to go through the gate and get behind the chain-link fence where they live. Don’t let the bark scare you away. It’s usually worse than the bite anyway.
And, who knows, the next time you see them, they might be so happy to see you, they’ll try to jump over that chain-link fence to ‘lick your face.’

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