As he read his Bible on the cabin porch, Old Man Jed heard an awful commotion in the distance. Across the pasture he spotted some strange goings-on. “Must be those two Darcy boys,” he said to himself. He pulled both overall straps up and sucked deeply on his pipe. There must have been enough smoke around him to cause multiple climate changes.
After several minutes, Old Jed’s curiosity got the best of him. He set down his pipe and the family Bible to make his way over to the rambunctious boys. An apple-scented cloud continued to drift behind him for a ways.
“He’s mine! Let go!” Pete Darcy had one hand on the pup and one hand on his brother’s throat.
Nate Darcy broke his brother’s grip and punched him in the eye. “That’s my pup! You take your hands off a him!”
“I’m gonna beat your brains out! Now give him here!”
“That dog’s mine and you know it!” Both boys looked like they had just been run over by a stampede—black eyes, ripped shirts, chunks of hair torn out, bloody mouths. And yet, they both managed to keep one hand on the deep-in-shock pup.
“Now, now! What in tarnation’s goin’ on here?” asked Old Man Jed. “Could hear you youngins clear across the field. What’s got in to you two?”
The boys were fighting over a six-month-old redbone pup. He was healthy looking and apparently well cared for. It would make a fine coon hunting dog for one of them. But which one rightfully owned the dog?
“You fellars come back to the cabin. I know exactly how to settle this.”
Both boys refused to let go of the terrified dog, but they followed Old Man Jed anyway. Once they arrive at the cabin, Jed went inside and brought out his axe. He took a few minutes and ran the file across the blade. The sunlight reflected nicely off the freshly worked metal. Both boys gaped at the axe but said not a word.
“Okay, Pete, you hold the front paws. Nate, you hold the back paws.”
Pete looked defiant. “What you doin’ with that there axe?”
“Hush! Now do as I say! Lay him right here beside my rocking chair. Pete, you pull that way. Nate, you pull the other way.”
Both boys looked stumped, but absolutely refused to let go of their dog.
“Now, I’m gonna count to 3 and then I’m gonna chop that there dog into two equal pieces. That way you can each have a part of him.”
What the boys did next confirmed their reputation for being the meanest, stubbornest, evilest kids around those parts. Each boy pulled hard, stretching the helpless little hound across the porch floor.
Old Jed raised the axe back over his shoulder, fully expecting the true owner to let go of the dog. This has got to work. It worked for Solomon–right?
Old Man Jed noticed that neither boy had flenched. A bead of sweat broke out on Jed’s forehead. A tightening sensation moved into his gut. This here’s a huckleberry above my persimmon, he thought.
“Two and a half!”
Old Jed was desperate. The lone stream of sweat joined with others and cascaded down his cheek. Dear God, what had he gotten himself into?
Just as the old man started to come down with the axe, Duke Parson walked up. The hammer on the old flintlock made a distinctive click as he pulled it back. “Jedediah, what you doin’ to my dog?”
At the first sight of Parson, both boys released the pup and ran like a legion of boogiemen were chasing them. The pup yelped and ran so fast that it might have traveled back in time. Old Man Jed stood, white as a sheet, the axe dangling by his side.
Slowly, the old man picked up his Bible and addressed the angry and confused Duke. “Duke, you know that thing in the Bible about Solomon and the baby bein’ cut in half?”
Duke twirled the bulge in his left cheek and spit tobacco juice on a minding-her-own-business laying hen. “Yea, what of it?”
Old Man Jed mustered a halfhearted smile. “Well, I … ” Jed paused and scratched the stubble on his chin. He had an idea. “Never you mind. You wanna play some chords? Got some fresh rabbit stew cookin’ in the pot”
Duke lowered and uncocked his weapon. He then pulled out a mouth harp, and Old Man Jed grabbed his banjo. The two men were happy neighbors again. They played late into the night and the cows never came home. I’m pretty sure the music’s what kept them away.
Some people continue to read God’s word like it’s a set of formulas. They become disillusioned when they follow it and don’t see the results they were expecting. But could it be that we–like Old Man Jed–make wrong assumptions about our circumstances? We read the people around us the wrong way? Do we sometimes take the Bible out of context? Maybe we don’t always think things through.
Perhaps the best thing to do is what King Solomon did at the beginning of his rule–pray for wisdom. Pray for it and long for it more than riches or fame. I believe Old Man Jed may have skipped that step.
By the way, I would never have allowed Old Man Jed to really chop the pup in two. I love puppies!
But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.
James 1:5 NAS