Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

 It was an innocent question really. One that I’m sure she had asked thousands of times before she posed it to us. And by now her words were rather flat from over usage and sorta flung over her shoulder in our general direction. But, in her defense, the waitress – excuse me – the hostess had no way of knowing that the three words her brain had been programmed to ask everybody coming through the front door, would light the fuse of such a mental explosion.

 

 By now, your curiosity is about to kill the cat, so allow me to let the cat out of the bag. My Mill Hill Bride and I, on a recent date night, were greeted with the aforementioned three words upon entering one of those nice places where a fellow can take his MHB on a date night. Whadda you mean, you haven’t had a date night since JFK and Jackie moved into the big white house? And you wonder why your ice tea ain’t sweet anymore? Well, you’ve gone and done it again – got me chasin’ a rabbit down a side road. But seriously, folks, this was definitely not a Vienna sausage and Saltine cracker place.

 

 When we’re on a date night, the menu for her must be, without exception, some part of a chicken that’s cooked completely without a hint of salt and with some kind of green and yellow rabbit food on the side steamed until it’s soft and mushy. For me, just be sure you mention cornbread, sweet taters, grits, or shrimp. Or all of the above if you want a generous tip.

  

I’m not saying that the ol’ DRCB (dirt road country boy) and his MHB (mill hill bride) are above their raisin’, but this place had cloth napkins – and they weren’t even white. And – you’re not gonna believe this – they were folded up and stuck in your water glass. But I’m getting the cart before the horse. We only saw this after we’d been waitin’ about 30 minutes and that little black thing-a-ma-jig in my back pocket started vibratin’ and squawkin’ like a mad setting hen.

 

 So I take my date’s hand in one of my hands (remember when you used to do that on a date?) and this squawkin’ box in my other hand, and we make our way back to where the lady was that was rolling up some more of those colored napkins. Lo and behold, she was puttin’ two forks and a knife in every roll-up. And they were real shiny and heavy.

 

 Do you wanna know how you can tell when you’ve taken your special date to a special place? Yep, you’re absolutely right – when they’ve got enough colored napkins to stick one in every water glass. And they’ve got enough forks for everybody in the place to have two a piece rolled up inside some more colored napkins.

 

 Whoa! Hit the brakes. This mental mule-train is out of control goin’ downhill. What were those three words – the question that the hostess asked? Yeah, I know, you’re ready to slap me with a wet dishrag if I don’t get to the point. So sharpen your number two lead pencil and get out your Blue Horse writing tablet – here it comes. TABLE OR BOOTH? You heard right. That’s what she asked. And, quicker than you can say ‘jackrabbit in the swamp,’ it turned an old man into a barefooted boy walking down that dirt road toward the ol’ farm house.

 

 Back home at Route 4, we never heard of anything called a booth that you sat down at to eat supper. For us, it was one big long heavy oak table, two benches and two chairs. So, when the lady turned around and repeated her question – table or booth – it took a well-placed elbow nudge from my date between ribs number two and three to bring me back from my trip down memory lane. Table, by all means, a table, I wanted to shout. “OK,” she said, it’ll be a few more minutes while we get one cleaned off.” I guess she thought we looked like ‘booth’ people, whatever that is.

 

 Suppertime back home was always with the family gathered around that big table in the kitchen, the only room in the ol’ farmhouse that was hot as blazes in the summertime and even hotter in the winter. And not a thermostat in sight on either the fireplace or Mother’s wood-burning cook stove. But when supper was over, there was still work to do. It was time to get up from the table, clean it off, wash and dry the dirty dishes, do homework if we had it, and get ready for tomorrow.

 

 I’m reminded of another family, gathered around the supper table, and when it was over, there was work that had to be done, something to be cleaned up, to get that family ready for all their tomorrows:

 

 John 13:1-9
New King James Version (NKJV)

 

13 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. 6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?”

7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.”

8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!”

Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.”

9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!”

 

And just like ol’ Simon Peter, it’s hard for me to understand why Jesus wants to wash my feet. But then, like Peter, when I stop to think about it, I want Him to dump His whole bucket of soap and water all over me, from my head to my toes. Because, unless I let him clean me up good and wash away all the dirt and grime from this world, I won’t be ready to eat supper with Him at that great Banquet Table that He’s getting’ ready right now for all who will have Him wash their feet. And, if I let Him clean me up, He’s promised that He won’t stick me in a booth somewhere over against the side of the wall. No, sir-ree, it’ll be the big table with the rest of His family.

 

Now, that’s a date I definitely don’t won’t to miss.

 

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