Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

There was a story on the evening news the other night about some gazillionnaire who had donated a hundred million dollars to some cause or the other that he was passionate about. It was probably pocket change to him, but my MBH (mill hill bride) said to no one in particular (that’s me), “I wonder what it would be like to be rich enough to give away that much money.”

Now get this picture. Here’s a girl from the Utica mill hill talking to her dirt-road, raised-on-cornbread, farm-boy husband. And neither of them seldom ever had two nickels to rub together. If, by chance, I managed to sell a dozen eggs for thirty cents, Daddy would say, “Boy, don’t let that quarter rub a hole in your pocket.” See, the nickel was OK by itself in one pocket of my over-all britches, but that quarter was ‘heavy’ money in the other pocket.

So, not wanting to have a hole in my pocket, I’d hitch a ride on Daddy’s pulpwood truck to Mr. Jim Stephens’ country store. That’s where I’d proudly plop that ‘heavy’ piece of money down on Mr. Jim’s counter, saunter over to the drink box, climb up on a milk crate and plunge my hand down into that icy cold water and come up with a small bottle of Coke. For you city kids, that’s a soft drink, not the brain-blowin’ stuff in today’s world.

Anyway, when the feeling returned to my right hand, I’d pop the cap off the bottle and hold my left hand to catch it from dropping into the bottle-cap holder. I had always heard that there might be a prize under the cork liner in the bottle cap, although I never saw one. Then I’d head back over to the counter, grab a pack of salted peanuts off the Tom’s peanut rack, and hold out my other hand to Mr. Jim for my nickel change. Now I really did have two nickels to rub together, one in each of the front pockets of my over-all britches so as not to rub a hole. Once I was back on the pulpwood truck, waitin’ for Daddy, I might add, to get through talking to Mr. Jim and all the other men who always seemed to be at the store, I’d bust open that pack of salted peanuts and pour ‘em down the neck of that small Coke bottle.

To this day, I remember thinking, ‘THIS is what I call living!” And usually, by the time Daddy turned off the tar-and-gravel and headed down the dirt road through Mr. Press Gibson’s yard toward our ol’ farmhouse, that little Coke bottle would be empty and my treasure would be gone. And I also still remember wondering to myself if those starvin’ kids in India who would go to bed hungry tonight if I didn’t clean my plate at the supper table, ever would be rich enough to know the joy of a pack of salted peanuts poured into a small Coke bottle. Maybe somebody someday will give them a quarter.

What is it about a rich man giving away a truckload of money that we find so interesting on the evening news? I hope and pray that it’s because he knows that the cash won’t last anyway, especially in this world’s current disastrous economy where many fortunes have gone down the drain. In fact, the Apostle Paul talked about uncertain economic conditions one day when he was holding a training session for young Timothy.

1 Timothy 6:17-19
New International Version (NIV)

17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

In Rte. 4 language, Paul told Timothy to make sure that people who are rich in this world understand two things. Number one, how important it was that they shouldn’t strut around like a banty rooster in the barnyard. Also, how important it is not to put our hope in the uncertain riches of this world, but instead put our hope in the richest Man in the world – the One who made and owns everything, anyway.

Then, secondly, Paul gave Timothy (and us) a how-to manual for being REALLY rich. Stack up good deeds like stove wood; don’t be stingy with what you have; and, to prove what Mother always told us farm boys, Paul said, “Always share with your brothers.” Then you’ll be really rich with a treasure that’s worth far more than peanuts in a Coke bottle. In fact, it’s the foundation we can stand on in the bright future that’s waitin’ for us, a time when all God’s children will stop and say, “THIS is what I call living.”

Like Mother always said when we didn’t have two nickels to rub together – it’s not the change in our pockets that counts; it’s the change in our hearts.


Editor’s note: Freeman Martin’s first book, Woodshed Wisdom, Vol.1, is now available. For an autographed copy, send $15.00, plus $3.00 shipping and handling to: Freeman Martin, 310 Andrew Pickens Dr, Seneca, SC 29678. Or you may be order online at: www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore.