Woodshed Wisdom

By Freeman Martin

The tv commercial blared out a question that just hung there in my mind like laundry on a clothes line. Didn’t get what you wanted for Christmas? Come in today and buy it for yourself!

So I decided to see if everybody was happy with their gifts. The line at the refund and exchange counter snaked back and forth like a kids ride at Disney World. There was a sign posted about half way through the line that said ’45 minutes from here.’ One lady said she’d stand there all day if she had to. Just so she could exchange the 48-piece socket and wrench set that her hubby had given her for Christmas! That was all the proof that I needed.

Some folks just don’t get it. A gift is a gift because it comes from the heart of the giver. That’s why it’s called a gift. And that’s why it’s so heart-warming to see folks who DO get it. Who are really, really appreciative of their gifts. And many times, it’s the children who show us the way to properly express appreciation.

Like Sarah-Parker, our nine-year-old, going on eighteen, granddaughter. Her Dad gave her a cookbook from the Princess and The Frog collection for Christmas. She absolutely loved it! So much so that she just showered him with hugs and kisses. I think her joy was Jeff’s best Christmas gift. Even so, his face lit up like the Christmas tree when he unwrapped one of his favorite books and a gift card from his favorite coffee shop.

And our grandsons, Kirby and Casey, had hugs all around for Mimi and Poppa when they unwrapped their gift cards and cash. Their mother, our daughter Kim, shed tears of joy when she opened the box containing her Kneeling Santa. I don’t think any of these gifts will be showing up at the refund counter.  

But the long line at the store was all the proof I needed that some people really aren’t happy with their gifts. And secretly, I guess, some people are envious and jealous of the gifts that other people get. But let’s play a little game that Kirby and Casey loved to play before they were all grown up and attached to their I-Pods and Touch Phones.

The name of the game was ‘Poppa, What If?’ Their creative little imaginations would come up with some of the wildest scenes you’ve ever heard. “Poppa, what if that bird in the tree up there weighed four thousand pounds and had scissors on the end of its wings?”  Or how ‘bout this one? “Poppa, what if everybody in the world had a bald head and looked like you?” Sometimes, if you give your imagination a long enough plow line, it will run away from you!

But if you think those are wild examples, I’ve got a ‘what if’ that will blow your mind! What if everybody in the house unwrapped the same gift on Christmas morning? Now, that happened on a couple of occasions back home at Route 4. Too many trips to the woodshed resulted in three or four boys all getting the same thing for Christmas – a lump of coal and some hickory switches! That said, however, the scene around the Christmas tree would be very dull and boring if we all got the same gift. The kids and grandkids would look funny walking around in workout clothes like mine. And some of us would draw flies if we all wore Mimi’s new perfume!

The same is true with spiritual gifts. God loves variety. That’s why He made every single one of us different. And special. And He didn’t give everyone the same gift. It was according to his Amazing Grace and His divine plan for our lives that we all have different gifts (Romans 12:6). And no one person got all His gifts, either. If you had them all, you wouldn’t need anyone else. He created us to depend on each other and help each other and lift each other up with the different gifts that He has given us.

That way, the only one who gets the praise is Him. Every gift He has given us is not just for our own benefit, but for the benefit of the whole body of Christ. So, if we don’t use the gift He has given us, then everybody gets cheated. And since I only bring my one gift to the party, I can’t do a lot of bragging.

Didn’t get the gift you thought you wanted? It just might be something that I could really use. And when it helps me, that’s your real gift!

Just don’t look for me in the refund line.