Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

Whenever there was a ‘scrap’ between any of us boys back home, and the little ‘tattle-tale’ went running to Mother, the first question out of her mouth was, “What happened?” I think it was her God-given patience and long-suffering that allowed her to listen to both sides of any squabble involving her six boys and three girls.

She would patiently listen to the evidence presented by both sides before presenting her ruling. Unless it was the fourth or fifth time that we’d been in front of her on the same day. On those occasions, we’d hear, “Boys, you are trying my patience.” And we surely must have done that so many times in which she never said anything.

But most of the time, it was that gentle ‘what happened’ question that allowed us some cooling off time. But the first thing she always had to do was settle the argument of who goes first in presenting his case. That was easy. All she had to do was just mention the possibility of turning the matter over to the ‘Court of the Woodshed’ with ‘Judge’ Daddy presiding. That would calm down a couple of farm boys quicker than a bucket of water on a campfire!

Like the time that I ‘borrowed’ Daddy’s good hammer from his tool box and proceeded to straighten some rusty, bent nails on a big rock. See, we had this old red-wagon frame that the bed had long since rusted out. We devised a plan to take a couple of those old, almost straight nails and nail the planks together and tie this rustic seat to the frame and wheels of the wagon. Then we could all take turns riding down the hill towards Coneross Creek.

Well, the plan got side-tracked before we ever took our first ride down the hill. Wade was holding the rusty, crooked nails while I used the aforementioned hammer to straighten them. About the time I took my first swing, Oliver ‘goosed’ me in the ribs. That caused me to swing the aforementioned hammer too hard. I proceeded to miss the crooked nail, hit Wade’s finger, and break the hammer handle on the rock all with one swing! You can just imagine the scene in Mother’s ‘lower courtroom.’

But, once again, she was successful in settling the case out of court, and it was back to the drawing board on the wagon ride. Sometime the next day we were finally able to get the nails straightened (with a backup hammer), nail the two planks together and, with the help of some hay-balin’ twine, tie ‘em to the wheels and head for the hill.

Ollie, being the oldest and biggest of this farm-boy construction trio, had to have the first ride. In retrospect, that was probably his first mistake. Since it was his jab in my ribs that caused our appearance on Mother’s docket the day before, I persuaded Wade to help me give Ollie a launch from the top of the hill.

When he was settled on our newly constructed, two-board seat, and holding on to another piece of hay-balin’ twine, we didn’t wait for his countdown. We just pushed as hard as we could. The next thing we knew the wheels were coming off about half-way down the hill and going toward the East, while Ollie and the rest of the wagon were headed West.

When he had chased us all the way back to Mother’s ‘courtroom,’ her first words were, “What happened?” I just blamed it on the wheels coming off. But we all still had to apologize and say we were sorry and forgive each other.

On this Monday after Easter, I’m just wondering if Jesus’ disciples also must have been thinkin’ the ‘wheels had come off.’ It’s a great story. Check it out in Luke 24:9-12. The two Mary’s and the other women who had gone to the tomb of Jesus, only to find it empty, had been scared half-to-death by a couple of angels who reminded them what Jesus had told them about what was going to happen while He was still with them in Galilee.

When the women got their wits back and reported to the Eleven and told them what the angels had said, these eleven guys who had been eyewitness to Jesus’ miracles, did not believe the women. In fact, they thought it was so much nonsense! But Peter had to see for himself. He got up and ran to see the empty tomb, but even seein’ was not believin’ for ol’ Peter. In the last part of verse 12, we read that Peter ‘went away wondering what had happened.’

Of course, we know that Peter later found forgiveness from our Lord, and found out what had happened when Jesus said, “Go tell my disciples, AND PETER.” So, what he and the other disciples first thought was bad news, turned out to be the best ‘Good News’ the world has ever heard. It was as simple as 2 plus 2 equals 4. Like the sign I saw out front of a country church, “2 nails plus 2 pieces of wood = 4-giveness.’

Good little piece of math to remember next time we think the wheels have come off!