Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Before we get to the shed today, I have an addition to yesterday’s “List of Things to Be Thankful For.” I had it in my thoughts, but my senior citizen brain forgot to transfer it to the list. And then it hit me like a brick between the eyes when so many of you shared your lists with me. And, by the way, I encourage you to continue to send your lists. Putting it in writing, I’ve found, helps to move it to the front of my brain.

While reading all of your ‘thankful lists,’ I felt compelled in my spirit to be sure that you know how much I appreciate each and every one of you who ‘go to the shed’ with us every day. Everybody needs somebody. And writers need readers. We all need to carve out some time from our busy schedules to share and encourage each other. I thank the Lord for giving me this privilege and this vehicle. And I thank you for being ‘Barnabas.’

When I opened my email-bag this morning, the first thing I saw literally shouted this message, ‘BLACK FRIDAY IS FINALLY HERE!’ I wanted to back up from my computer and say, ‘Whoa, Mule!’ Is that good or bad? Has something happened that I don’t know about? And then I woke up!

It’s THE shopping event of the year! The day when folks start forming lines in the dark about six hours before sun-up. In search of the real-deal, must-have, hottest items of the year. Right about here, I think, is a good time to take a little side road and make a confession.

I don’t think there’s anything at any price on any aisle in any department in any store in the world that’s going to make me get in a line at midnight in near-freezing temperatures. And work my way toward the front door as that line stretches all the way around the store, out the parking lot, and down the street.

All because the store ad proclaims that Black Friday prices have been slashed fifty percent. And that store only has ten of those “what-you-call-it, hicky-doodles.” And my life will be forevermore miserable if I don’t get one of those ten. After the first ten people get in the store, what are the rest of the hundreds and hundreds of folks in line going to do? Are they there just to drink hot chocolate with their friends in the middle of a ten-acre asphalt parking lot at midnight?

In my warped thinking I can imagine the supervisor of the ‘hicky-doodle’ production line giving these instructions. “OK, workers, this year we’re only going to make ten hicky-doodles. And after we’ve made ten of them, we’re closing up shop and going home for the holidays.” I wonder if all the stores will be open on Saturday. And next week. And next month. And will the hicky-doodle factory miraculously open back up and make a few more hicky-doodles?

That kind of thought process back home on the farm would always win us an all-expenses paid trip to the woodshed. And with the trip, came these instructions. “Boys, use your head for something besides a hat rack.” For example, standing in the middle of the garden one day, leaning on my hoe handle, thinking, instead of hoeing crab grass, I had what I thought was a brilliant idea. So I asked Daddy. “We have to hoe the crab grass every time it comes up. Why don’t we just wait till it’s all come up? That way we can just hoe the garden one time a year.” Well, I don’t have to tell you what he did with my hoe handle!

Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re scratching your head and wondering what in the world does hoeing crab grass in the garden have to do with Black Friday? You logged on to www-dot-blackfriday-dot-com, and you didn’t see anything about a brand-new hoe handle selling for seventy-five percent off. But only ten of them at this price. And only between the hours of three o’clock and five o’clock in the morning on the day after Thanksgiving!

But here’s the catch. As human beings, we’re conditioned to ‘seek and search.’ After all, it’s the hottest gift of the year, right? So what if I have to suffer a little bit. If I endure the freezing temperature and the walking around the parking lot at midnight, I can get one at way-below regular price. If it was free, I probably wouldn’t think twice about it. Wouldn’t be worth having if they’re givin’ it away.

But, as daylight approaches on this Friday morning, I say ‘go for it!’ If that kind of thing makes you happy, more power to you. Knock yourself out and have a ball. I’ll be warm and cozy and I’ll watch you and your friends in line on the six o’clock news.

But as you try to get the circulation back in your frozen toes, let’s all remember that, on a Black Friday over two thousand years ago, we were given the greatest Gift the world has ever known, or will ever know. And the One who have us that Gift endured a lot more suffering than standing in line in the dark for a bargain price. In fact, Jesus paid the ultimate price, His own life, so that you and I and everyone in the world can have that Gift for FREE!

What if, after you’ve stood in line for hours in the cold, you make it to the check-out with your dear prize, and, as you pull out the plastic, the clerk says, “It’s free. The person in front of you paid for it.” Would you not be amazed and astonished. And so very thankful. And you just couldn’t wait to tell all your friends about it. You’d be running out the store, hollerin’ and screamin’. Mine was free! Mine was free! Hallelujah! Mine was free!

So as we’re all seekin’ and searchin’, let’s look for the Best first. Hiding in our hearts the words of our Lord in Matthew 6:33. Seek ye FIRST His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

After that Black Friday a long time ago, the Son rose on the third day and has been the Light of the world ever since. What you and I must do is scream and holler and shout if we have to, but let’s be sure to tell those who don’t know – the most wonderful Gift they’ll ever have is absolutely free, but it didn’t come without a price. But the price has already been paid. And it’s not limited to the first ten people.

Whosoever will may come!