Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

Sometimes I think I have ten thumbs instead of two. And the time that reminds me most of that fact is, you guessed it, wrapping Christmas presents. What is it that makes the simplest little job so hard? I can use the same scissors, the same tape, the same paper, ribbons, and bows. But yet the presents that I wrap are the ones that Helen likes to ‘be on bottom and behind the tree’ when she takes pictures of the fully-dressed tree.

If the presents that I wrap were art, they’d be abstract. You have to look at ‘em and say, ‘what is that and where in the world did it come from?’ For some unknown reason, that whole process of fold-and-crease just escapes me. I usually wind up with a wad of paper on each end that resembles a two-day old baby diaper.

So I use about half a roll of scotch tape. And it seems like every time I cut a piece of tape, it automatically doubles back and wraps around my finger. And if I try to double up a piece of tape to make last year’s bows stick on this year’s presents, I become hopeless and hapless.

Sometimes if I cut the wrapping paper too short, I’ll even graft a piece of similar paper onto one end. That works much better, though, if I use solid color paper. Those floral, zig-zag patterns are impossible to match. With them, my gifts look like they’ve been delivered by plastic surgeons.

And when we quit bringing groceries home in brown paper bags, my job got a little harder. But since I discovered colored duct tape, at least I can stay in the same color scheme. Even still, though, the grand kids can look at the tree and say, “Poppa wrapped this one and Poppa wrapped that one.”

It used to bother me a lot, but not anymore. When arthritis came to visit and never left my knuckles and fingers, I accepted the fact that I would never master the art of gift wrapping. And then one day, the Lord parted the sea of misery in my mind when it comes to ugly packages. It took away all my mental anguish and made my gift wrapping a breeze. What was this startling revelation? Thank you for asking.

I realized that at the end of the day everybody’s gift wrapping paper looks the same. No matter how beautiful the bows and how symmetrical the folds and creases are, they’re all wadded up together with my misfits when I’m stuffing them into a big trash bag.

Now, I know that some of you will say, “It’s all about the presentation.” But just try telling that to a child. Their present might look like a float in the Christmas parade. But give it to ‘em and watch ‘em rip, tear, and pull the paper apart and throw it on the floor. It’s what’s inside that’s important to them.

Maybe we need to become more like a little child. Now where have I heard that before? Oh, yes, now I remember. I’ve heard that from the One who was the all-time and still greatest Christmas Gift the world has ever known. And the most precious Gift you and I could ever give or receive.

God didn’t send His only Son to be born in a penthouse suite with linen sheets. No, the Savior of the world was born in a barn! With all the animals and their “b.o.”

Growing up on the farm, I can tell you from personal experience, mules and donkeys and cows and sheep don’t take showers! And, as we used to say back home at Route 4, they don’t clean up after themselves, either. If you’ve ever gone into a stable after dark to fill up the feeding trough, you better step lightly and carefully. If you catch my drift!

And it was in this exact same kind of situation that Jesus Christ made His entry into the world. Don’t you know God could have chosen the finest birthing suite in Bethlehem General Hospital if He had wanted to? He’s God. He can do anything He wants to.

But He chose the lowly stable for the arrival of His precious Gift to the world. And He was wrapped in swaddlin’ clothes. That’s strips of cloth. Just rags. Not the most beautifully wrapped gift in the world! That makes me just want to pump both fists and the air and shout Hallelujah! If I could get both feet off the ground at the same time, I’d jump as high as possible!

The angel of the Lord told the shepherds in Luke 2:12, “Here’s your sign.” In Route 4 translation, that means, you’ll know it’s Him when you find Him wrapped in rags and  lying in a feed trough in a stinking stable.

And that is exactly my point. When King Jesus comes into the stinking mess of our lives, we’re never the same again. This Christmas, let’s see how childish we can be, as Mother used to say. ‘Cause kids don’t worry about how a gift is wrapped.

They just can’t wait to get it open.