Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

It’s almost comical. This fascination in our world today with a phenomenon called a yard sale. Something that was once thought to be useful and necessary now relegated to the yard sale. Those just-gotta-have, can’t-get-along-without enamel ducks and swans, for example, that once stood proud and tall on the table beside the front door greeting visitors.

Or junior’s size 2-Toddler pants, so cute with teddy bears and snap-up legs and matching shirt. They were ‘just darling’ in 1977. Or the daughter’s little lime-green and pink tutu with matching tiara and princess wand. Slowly disintegrating in a box in the attic for over 40 years now. 

Or grandma’s collection of porcelain roosters, along with a framed cross stitch announcement that “it takes a lot of scratch to feed us chickens,” and the basket of plastic eggs inscribed with the life-changing inspirational message – “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”  I’d like to see the plastic hen that laid those plastic eggs!

All bought at a price, some even on the ‘lay-awake’ plan. That’s where you make a down payment and then lay awake at night wondering how you’re going to pay for it. But the price was paid and you took them into your heart and home. Only to be boxed up and sold at the yard sale for a fraction of their original cost! How much for the complete set of six matching Donald Duck sippy cups? Well, let’s see. We paid 39.95 for the set – they’re yours for only fifty cents.

I’ve been wondering lately why we never had a yard sale back home at Route 4. Goodness knows, there was enough ‘stuff’ to have a big one. Like one I’ve heard about out west somewhere that stretches along a roadside for hundreds of miles! I’ve concluded that there are at least a couple of reasons why farm folks never had yard sales. You might think of many more. If so, I’d like to hear them.

But in our family of nine-on-the-farm, plus Mother and Daddy and Grandma, I just don’t ever remember anything outliving its usefulness. Tear your shirt going under the barbed wire fence? Mother sewed it up and you kept on wearing it! You should have known better, anyway! And I’d be called a tattle-tale if I said that shirt really got torn when Oliver held the barbed wire strands apart for me to go through, and then dropped them when I was half-way across!

Or so what if the seat of your ‘designer’ jeans was worn thin from too many trips to the woodshed? Mother patched them up with some ‘TLC’ thread and made you feel better. And now it’s hip to wear ‘em with holes, even some in strategic places that come close to being what Mother used to call shameful and indecent.

But in those days, everything had its purpose. And it didn’t seem to lose its usefulness. It was merely handed down from oldest to youngest on the stair-steps of growing up in the fifties. We even saved the rock salt from churning homemade ice cream in the summer to spread on icy back porch steps in the winter time. You just didn’t throw anything away. And you know what? We had never heard of something called a landfill, that garbage mountain that grows higher and higher every day! If it won’t sell at the yard sale, just take it to the crusher-compactor at the land fill.

But when I think about how things, once bought at a price and thought to be of value, lose that value and wind up on a yard sale table, I remember Jesus’ words about salt. That’s right salt. One day He was giving His disciples another lesson at the shed. He told them that they (we) are supposed to be like salt (Matthew 5:13). Adding flavor and tastiness. Making a difference in the lives of others because of Who they see in us. And He didn’t say that they (we) will be the salt of the earth. He said you (we) are the salt of the earth. Today. Right now.

And if we lose our ‘saltiness,’ our zest, if you will, for adding the missing ingredient in the recipe of life, the saltiness cannot be added back. It no longer can be used to add flavor at the kitchen table. Those un-salted saltine crackers just don’t take the place of the real thing. The only thing salt without flavor is good for is to be thrown out on the back porch steps and trampled on by all who pass by, most in search of the treasure we once had.

So enjoy your yard sale. Have fun looking for the bargains and searching for that ‘little treasure’ that you can take home and make valuable again. But don’t be surprised if you don’t find it. I’ve never seen anything at a yard sale that I’d die for! In spite of the popular expression that something is ‘just to die for!’

See, that’s exactly what Jesus did. He left the treasure of Heaven for the trash of the earth. And when the landfill of life got so big, He gave His very own life to save the garbage and make it useful again. The next time you see someone depressed and sad and down on themselves, could even be that person you see in the mirror, tell ‘em Jesus died for you, and that the greatest treasure the world has ever known is absolutely FREE FOR THE ASKING!

It was the most  horrible, painful death ever recorded in history. You wanna know why? This is just me talking, but I believe it was because He thought, and still thinks today, that what He was dying for was and is valuable. After all, his Father made it and God makes no junk. So that makes it worth keeping.

No yard sale signs to stick up by the road. No throwaways in the garage. Every thing is brand new. Bought and paid for by the spilled blood of Jesus Christ that day on a hill called Calvary.

I am SO happy there won’t be any yard sales in Heaven!