Wait 'til Martin Comes
My dad loved to tell stories, especially stories that had a punchline at the end, or ended in a
funny or scary way you weren't expecting. I can't tell you how many times I jumped out of my
skin because Dad ended one of his stories with an Aaaaaargh in my face or a poke in the ribs!!
One of those stories is very old, from the turn of the last century or there-abouts, and I'm sure
Dad had heard it as a child growing up in east Tennessee. There are several variations on the
tale, but I'll tell it to you the way I recall him telling it to me.
There was an itinerant old preacher who was traveling on horseback down the road toward his
next church and congregation. He'd been on the dusty trail all day, and as dusk turned to dark, a
storm blew up, and the ensuing nightfall, rainfall, and hail forced him and his horse off the path.
Luckily, just as he thought he'd have to spend the night under some rock or tree, he caught sight
of an old house tucked back among the brush some way off the side of the road.
He tethered his horse, walked up the steps to the porch, and as he knocked, the door swung
open with a rusty creeeeaaaak to reveal a nearly vacant room. Inside was a worn-out old sofa
facing a huge hearth and fireplace; the rest of the room was empty as far as he could see. There
was wood laid by on the side of the hearth, as if the old house knew some traveler would need
to start a fire, get warm, and rest for a while.
The old preacher stacked kindling on the grate and easily started the fire, then settled onto the
couch, and picked up his Bible to read. The warmth and the reading soon found him drifting
into sleep. As his pocket watch chimed, he opened his eyes, looking around to recall where he
was, and low and behold, on the hearth sat a large black cat. The cat mreoawed rather suddenly,
eyeing the preacher a little too intently to be comforting...and after a few minutes of silence, the
cat cleared its throat and said, "Wait 'til Martin comes."
The old preacher shook his head, certain he hadn't heard correctly! Cats do not talk! He must
really be tired. He closed his eyes, opened them again, and the cat looked ordinary, sitting on
the hearth licking its paws and curling its long, black tail. So, the preacher sighed, closed his
eyes, and his breathing deepened as he returned to his sleep.
A few minutes later, the old preacher was startled out of his sleep by the sound of the door
slamming shut! As he turned toward it, he saw another cat, twice the size of the first, brilliant
orange in color, and advancing into the room toward him! This new apparition stopped, glared
at the preacher, then turned to the other cat, and said,
"Shall we eat him now?!"
The smaller cat surveyed the preacher, then responded, "Wait 'til Martin comes."
The preacher couldn't believe his ears! He'd read in the Bible about a donkey that spoke, but
there were no speaking cats in that blessed book! Did they really speak? Did he imagine it?
What should he do? Would they, COULD they, eat him? And WHO is Martin!?
He kept one wary eye on the cats, and with the other eye closed he started praying with his
hands clasped firmly on his Bible, but the warmth of the room overcame him as he prayed, and
off he went to sleep.
A loud crack from the fireplace awakened him again, and as he looked up, sure that he'd
dreamed about the cats, standing there instead of two cats were now THREE cats! And the third
was as big as a tiger, with teeth just as sharp, and eyes just as malicious glaring at him. As the
old preacher stared at them in terrified silence and paralysis, the largest cat rumbled, SHALL
WE EAT HIM NOW!?!
And the second cat responded, "Wait 'til Martin comes."
And the first cat echoed, "Wait 'til Martin comes."
And the preacher stood up, threw his Bible at the cats, ran out the door and cried, "When ol'
Martin comes, you tell him I've done been here and gone!"
Are you groaning the way I did when Daddy told the story? I can remember the twinkle in his
eyes as he told it, knowing how unsatisfying such an ending is! I have questions! Who was
Martin? Had the cats eaten someone before? Whose house was it? Did the preacher ever return
or investigate in the daylight? Doesn't anybody else want to know more?
I can imagine the disruption to that preacher's life...and isn't that just like life and business?
We are moving along, minding our business, and circumstances force us off the path. I
remember being a very ambition young woman, moving up the career ladder, married for about
three years, my husband finishing his degree, and finding out I was unexpectedly expecting our
first child. What? NOW? I had plans! We weren't ready! I don't even like children!! Well, I do
now, of course, if they're mine. I'm told I'll like my grandchildren, too, if I'm ever blessed with
That's a happy circumstance, and one I'm glad the Lord saw fit to disrupt my life for, even if it
was surprising and terrifying at the time. But what about other roadblocks we encounter? A
business setback? A failure. A cancer diagnosis. The death of someone or something we love.
Church hurt. The loss of a job.
Sometimes, doesn't it feel like your Life or your Business is staring you down and asking,
"Shall we eat her now!?" Perhaps like the old preacher, I want to ask myself from time to time,
"Is it supposed to be this hard?"
How should we respond? I think we can learn some things from the old preacher! Let me
First, let's be real. And by that, I mean, let's be real! Examine the reality of where you are and
honestly identify the roadblock that's keeping you from reaching your goals, achieving success,
or moving forward. Often, it's something within our control.
A few years ago, I had a huge sales goal, and I wasn't making progress. I reached out to a
mentor who asked me keen questions about my customer base, and how many new people I'd
need to be in front of. Double the sales goal meant double the customers, right? But I had no
plan to reach new customers. And I stubbornly refused to acknowledge what was right in front
of me, so I missed the goal.
A relative in my family a few years ago discovered a lump in her breast. She ignored it, in full
blown denial, even as it grew, and when her pain eventually became too much to bear, and she
saw a doctor, her cancer was far too advanced to treat successfully.
In both cases, there were clues that clearly indicated all was not right with the world. And in our
folk tale, that ol' preacher lay on the sofa, KNOWING there was a talking cat in the room!! If
that's not a clue to something amiss, I don't know what is, yet, like him, we will often ignore
reality because it seems too big to overcome, or the other circumstances around us seem bigger
or more urgent, or we're just plain scared to face what is wrong.
Perhaps the storm kept him inside. Perhaps distractions keep you from acknowledging a serious
problem right in front of you. Time to take stock about what needs your attention. It may not be
the thing you are obsessing about in the moment. It may be easily solvable, but it won't be
solved until you take a look.
Second, had that ol' preacher dealt with the first cat, the two larger and scarier cats likely
wouldn't have entered the house! The preacher DID pray about his situation...but he put no
legs on his prayers. A bold "SCAT CAT! And chase out the doorway may have done the trick
on that first talking cat. But he took no action. Not even a question... "Who are you cat, and
who is Martin?"
Instead, he gave in to that old nemesis Procrastination! My husband says it this way, "Bad news
does not improve with age." Bite the bullet. Eat the frog. Do the thing. Take care of what needs
taking care of; otherwise, a problem might grow beyond your ability to fix it.
I have a friend who didn't get around to filing her taxes one year. Afraid of her bottom line, she
didn't file the following year, or the next year after that. By the time she faced the problem,
pulled her records together and submitted the necessary returns, she discovered she WOULD
have been owed a refund. But fees and interest ate up her overpayment, and she now OWED
money to the IRS. Bad news does not improve with age.
That ol preacher should have dealt with the first cat as soon as it started talking!
Finally, the preacher did something brave and wonderful! He took decisive action! He decided
NOT to wait for the elusive Martin, and he ran from the house, jumped on his horse, hit the
trail, finding the storm and the darkness preferable to the alternative.
My mother had a saying that I love... "Do something, even if it's wrong!" She didn't mean
morally wrong, but even if it's the wrong decision, movement, action, will accomplish
something - expose weakness, develop discipline, move the needle. I think she would say that
waiting for the perfect idea or the perfect choice, or the perfect timing, usually does not produce
progress! And isn't that the MOST encouraging thing we can do for our business. Progress?
Waiting for Martin to arrive doesn't seem a valid business strategy. Hoping it's all just our
imagination, or it can't be a bad as all that, or if I wait, it will all get better on its own. What's
the old saying? Hope is not a strategy. Time to get real, and deal.
I'm pretty sure Wait til Martin Comes wasn't meant to be a morality tale, and I've read waaaay
more into the story than the narrative supports. But those lessons found in humor and story
might just help us find the courage to take action and make progress.
So, let's get real! Don't put off dealing with problems and take decisive action.
And ol' Martin, wherever and whatever he is... well, now he's the victim of missed
opportunity. There'll be no old preachers to eat tonight! But that's a lesson for another day!
Colossians 4:5 says "Conduct yourself with wisdom in your interactions with outsiders (non-
believers), make the most of each opportunity (treating it as something precious). (AMP)
What are you waiting for? Don't wait until three talking cats scare you into action. Brave the
elements and keep on riding!
Thank you for stories and laughter, and for what we can learn in each. You delight in stories
and have shared Your story with us through Your Word. I pray we listen well! I ask for
discernment for when we need to "get real," for the power of NOW, and for the courage to act. I
pray the Spirit gives us ears to hear Your instructions and that we will obey not just for worldly
success but for Your honor and glory.
In Jesus Name,