Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

The discussion down at the woodshed recently has been about directions. More specifically, are you a good direction hearer? That’s right, I said hearer, not giver. In other words, do you hear directions as well as someone gives them? Case in point. My friend, Tommy Day, gave me some great directions the other day. No pun intended, by the way.

Tommy pointed me to the road I needed to be on. And he said, “Just go straight through two 4-way stops, turn right, go one mile, and take the first left.” Real simple instructions, right? Any third grader could understand those directions, even if he didn’t have a smart phone. Well, it wasn’t that simple. Nothing wrong with Tommy’s directions, mind you. They were great. The problem came with the hearer of those great directions.

A simple question from my mill-hill bride in the navigator’s seat made me start wondering if I, indeed, had heard the directions correctly. Did Tommy say two 4-way stops, or did he say four 2-way stops? Was it turn left, go two miles, and take the first road on the right? Rights and lefts can be so confusing. In situations like these, there are two other questions that I’ve never liked to hear from the navigator’s seat. Are we there yet? And, Are we lost? But these days, there’s now a new statement from the co-pilot that follows those two questions – “If we just had a GPS, this wouldn’t happen.” Yeah, right! Like I need another woman tellin’ me where to go.

Excuse me, but I just have to run down this side road for a little ways. I learned early on that giving directions was not a strong necessity for growing up on the mill hill. After all, you had the main drag, Goddard Avenue. That was all you needed to remember. Everything else connected to Goddard somewhere or somehow. No need to get good at giving or hearing directions. Or so I thought.

Reminds me of the time many years ago that we were headin’ back home to our honeymoon cottage in the hills of South Carolina. It was late in the day and my new bride from Goddard Avenue was providing the directions. When she was finished, it was dark. That means nap time. A couple of hours later, I began to suspect something was amiss in her direction-giving when a sign appeared in my headlights that said, Welcome to North Carolina.

Of course, I have no reason to brag. Back home at Route 4, Seneca, South Carolina, there was only one direction that you needed to give or to hear. Once again, real simple. To get to our farm, you only had to remember one thing. Take the first dirt road past Return Baptist Church and go to the end of it. If you showed up at our house, you were coming to see us. Or you were lost. Either way, when you left, all you had to do was just turn around and head back up that same dirt road to the tar and gravel highway. Speaking of which, I need to get back to the main road right now.

All this talk about rights and lefts and finding your way and following good directions started gatherin’ in the back of my frontal lobe the other day like a dust cloud behind your pickup on a dirt road. When you stop, it’s all over you. So, excuse me, but I’m just tryin’ to wash it all off. The first little dust ball jumped up when I read something written by another mill-hill wonder child.

You know that book where you put your face and then you write something beside your face that you hope a lot of people read? And I’m not saying it’s wrong to write stuff by your face in the book. Down here at the shed, we hope people all over the world read about the woodshed and get a blessing that makes their toes tingle.

Another side road, please. Most of the time, we’re the ones gettin’ the blessing just writing about the shed. That happened again the other day. My toes are tinglin’ right now just trying to tell you about it. One of our nation’s many heroes, a young Army man by the name of Andy Robinson, just back from serving our country, told me that he had read the Woodshed about his granddad, Jake Robinson, while he was in Iraq. God used this thing called the internet to take something from home and carry it to a young man on the other side of the world. That just makes goose-bumps run up and down my back. I believe even my goose-bumps have their own goose-bumps.

But, back to what I read beside the face of Mill-Hill Phil. You probably know him as Phil Burgess. I almost fell on my three-legged milkin’ stool when I read what Mill-Hill Phil wrote in the electronic book beside his face. I don’t know if he had been out in the heat too long or what. Maybe Jennie needs to check his temperature. Anyway, here’s what Mill-Hill Phil wrote beside his face about playin’ hide and seek with his grandchildren. And I quote – “a scavenger hunt where you use your android phone implementing global positioning technology.”

I’ve fried a couple of boards on my main frame just tryin’ to figure out what in the name of Sam Hill that Mill-Hill Phil was talkin’ about. You mean to tell me that if he hides behind the barn while his grands count to ten, they don’t have to spend the next hour lookin’ for him? Somebody told me that all they have to do is type in Mill-Hill Phil on some kind of gadget, and a picture pops up on a tiny screen showin’ them exactly where M-H Phil is hidin’. What in the world is this world coming to?

To make matters worse, my mental hard drive achieved total burn out when M-H Phil’s boyhood buddy, James Carter, told me how his GPS had saved his life. The way I heard it, and you know how I am about hearin’ things, but it seems that James, the mill-hill brother of my mill-hill bride, had a flat tire while he and Ann were draggin’ their worldly possessions up and down the road in a fancy wagon hooked to the back of their truck. Oh, no, you think. A flat tire. And we’re many miles from home. No problem, according to Mill-Hill James. Just whip out the ol’ GPS, punch in “Wally-World,” and, voila! There’s one right up the road from them.

And you’re just not gonna believe this. After M-H James got his flat tire fixed, Ann said she just punched in the word ‘home,’ and this thing in her hand showed her a picture and gave her directions about the best way to go home. No rememberin’ all those rights and lefts and detours and road construction and heavy traffic and all that stuff. Just listen to that ‘woman in the box.’

I sure am glad I don’t need a GPS to find my way home. My Heavenly home, that is. But wait. Come to think of it, I actually do have one. It’s called God’s Positioning System, the Holy Bible. It’s a book in which Jesus has written simple and exact directions for us all to follow while we try to find our way as we travel this road called life. In fact, the first people who followed His directions were called followers of the Way.

Take a minute and read Proverbs 22:6 in God’s Positioning System. It talks about training children in the way they should go, and when they get old they won’t forget it. Then, to nail it down, turn over to the book of John, chapter 14, verses 1-6. Jesus was gettin’ ready to go away. He told His disciples that if they had been listening to His directions, they knew where He was going.

And then ol’ Thomas started doubtin’ what he had heard. That’s how he got his nickname. He didn’t even remember where Jesus was going, much less how he and his buddies could find their way. But don’t be too hard on Doubtin’ Thomas. He was a lot like many of us today. Where are we going? And which road do we take? How many rights or how many lefts? And what about the potholes? What if the road is under construction or the bridge is out? After all, he didn’t have one of these fancy GPS boxes to help him when he was lost. But he did have the words of Jesus in verse 6, “I am the way.” Not a way, but THE way.

And that’s all Thomas, or any one of us, ever need to find our way home.