Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

This young man was a very good waiter. While he waited patiently for us to decide what we wanted to drink, he must have been thinking, “Come on, folks, how hard can this be? It’s either tea or water.” But he didn’t say a word. Remember, I said he was a very good waiter.

It was what Damian said after we had made our hard choices over tea or water that elevated his waiter skills to a handsome tip level. “Folks, I’ll be back in just a minute with some hot rolls.” Now, you probably won’t ever see a little cross-stitch frame or inspirational plaque with these particular words.

But it was truly inspiring to see and hear what took place next. All conversations about the weather, politics, and religion ceased immediately when my Sunday School teacher, seated to my left, said to Paul across the table, “Paul, why don’t you go ahead and say the blessing so we’ll be ready to dig in when he comes back with those hot rolls?”

It was not a suggestion. A poll did not need to be conducted. A vote did not have to be taken. Heads bowed. Eyes closed. And the second that Paul said amen, there was Damian, standing there beside the table, as promised, with a basketful of those make-you-bite-your-tongue little rolls and honey butter.

Now, they’re only about the size of a banty hen egg, but you would have thought they were solid gold. That basket was empty before you could say, ‘pass the biscuits, please.’ I saw right away that my two friends named Wayne share much more than the same name. It gave a whole new definition to the term ‘breaking bread together.’ A couple of fingers could have been broken in that action.

As this warm and friendly scene was unfolding around our table, I was transported back down the dirt road of my memories to another table in another time. The kitchen table at the old farmhouse back home at Route 4, Seneca, SC, was also the scene of many near-misses. Just imagine about eight or ten hungry folks, all armed with forks, and all reaching for the last cat-head biscuit on the plate. The back of your hand would require medical attention if it got in the way of Daddy’s long arm, boardin’ house reach.

I say all that to bring up this question. Why is it that we’re so enticed with bread? Think about your favorite restaurant. Chances are that they serve some sort of bread to tempt your taste buds, either while you’re waitin’, or with the main course of your meal. Of course, back home on the farm, hot buttered corn bread was the main course almost every night at the supper table.

But just name any restaurant worth its gravy, and I could just about tell you what kind of bread they serve. My short list of favorites includes garlic and cheese biscuits, yeast rolls, Pumpernickel loaf on a little wooden slab, and soppin’-ready dinner rolls drowning in melted butter and sprinkled with parmesan cheese. Any one of you could probably add many more to this list.

This is just me, but I think there’s something special about the aroma of freshly baked bread hot out of the oven. It sorta wraps around you like the feeling of an extra blanket on a cold winter night, if you know what I mean. And it goes a long way toward making you forget about being hungry. As a boy, I remember watching Mother’s hands covered with flour and buttermilk, mixing and kneading the dough, spreading it out with her rolling pin, cutting circles in the dough, and loading 35 of those circles onto her biscuit pan for baking in the old wood-burning cook stove. And when those golden brown delights came out of the oven and drove our hunger away, you could not convince me that it wasn’t a miracle.

Speaking of miracles, who can forget the story of that little boy’s lunch that Jesus used one day to satisfy the hunger of five thousand men, plus the women and children who were there (Mark 6:38-43). I love that story every time I read it. Having carried my lunch to school that Mother fixed and packed in a Dixie Crystals sugar sack, I think the miracle of a mother’s love was in that boy’s lunch pail that day along with the five little loaves of barley bread and two fish. She had probably taught him that it was nice to share. And maybe that’s why he didn’t mind when the disciples asked him if they could borrow his lunch.

Pardon me, but I feel the urge to chase a rabbit down a side road right here. I’ve often wondered what that boy told his mother when he got home. Did he say, “Mom, you’re not going to believe this, but I met a man today who used my lunch and fed about a zillion people. And guess what, Mom, when everybody had all they wanted, these men came around through the crowd and picked up a dozen basketfuls of leftovers.” And did his mother just smile at the wild imagination of her little country boy?

Back to the main road. There are many, many kinds of bread that can satisfy the hunger of our stomachs – for a little while – and then we’re hungry again. But there’s only one kind of bread that can permanently satisfy the hunger of our hearts. It’s called the Bread of Life (John 6:35). It never spoils. It’s never stale. It never goes out of date. And when you accept it, you’ll never be hungry again. Therein lies the miracle.

Lord Jesus, give us this day our daily bread. Amen.