Woodshed Wisdom
By Freeman Martin

I was just standing there minding my own business when it happened. That’s what you say when you have more Christmases behind you than in front of you, and the ol’ dirt-road mind goes wandering off by itself. I was in the framed art department of the big box store. Love to stand there and gaze at all the beautiful plaques and pictures with motivational and inspirational sayings and verses.

This one particular picture caught my eye. It was turned sideways from Sunday down on the bottom shelf and looked like one of those things that you see at an art gallery that you can never really figure out what it’s supposed to be. The frame was coming apart at the corners and the glass was in about a dozen pieces. I stared at it for a few seconds, probably several minutes, trying to give my brain enough time to convince my ol’ sore back that here was something worth bending over to take a closer look at.

And, sure as shootin,’ when the brain won that battle, I picked it up and turned it right side up for a closer examination. And that’s when it happened. The very split second that the 40-watt bulb came on in my head, somebody standing beside me said, “Are you into genealogy?” I looked at him and then back at the work of art.

It looked like an apple tree that we used to have back home at Route. 4. It had a gob of limbs running off in every direction possible. And at the end of each limb, instead of a juicy red apple, or a golden delicious, there was a space for you to use Elmer’s glue and paste a picture of your parents, grandparents, great-grands, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on and so on till you run out of blank spaces on the family tree.

I guess it was the look on my face like a blank sheet of paper that made him decide to investigate further. After my polite, ‘excuse me,’ he said, ‘you know, genealogy, shake the ol’ family tree and see what falls out.’ Well, now he had my undivided attention. When you’ve been a skinny, scaredy-cat kid climbing up further than you should and crawling out on a limb further than you should to get the best apple on the tree, and had your brothers shake you out of the tree and take your hard-earned apple away from you, well that’s just something that you don’t forget in a lifetime.

And that’s where my Rte. 4 mind had wandered off to as my new friend without a name began to explain to me how he had searched his family tree back through eight or ten generations. At least he was honest enough to admit that some of his forefathers had been hung for stealing gold. And some others had been shot for being cattle rustlers. I guess if we go back far enough, we could all find some ‘squirrels’ jumping from limb to limb in our family tree.

Long after my friend had moved on to the hardware and power tools, I was still standing there. And, as I held the broken apple tree picture, I remembered another family tree that I have been studying about for a while in the Bible. It starts in the first verse of the first chapter of the first book of the New Testament. Matthew tells us that he’s fixin’ (Rte. 4 translation, gettin’ ready) to tell us about the most important family tree the world has ever known or will ever know.
The Genealogy of Jesus:
1 A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:
I’ll tell you right here that in the past I’ve skipped right over the first seventeen verses of Matthew’s gospel. Quite simply, there’s a bunch of names that I can’t pronounce. But there are some folks in Jesus’ family tree that I’ve come to know. And others I’m still learning about. If course, we all know about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, fathers of our faith. Then there was Jesse’s boy, David, a country boy who killed a giant, became king, and wrote a lot of poetry. And David’s boy, Solomon, was the smartest man that ever lived. Sounds like a Who’s Who of the Scriptures, right?
But you know what? Even some of these folks were real ‘characters,’ as my Mother used to say. At one time or another in their lives, they all spent some time in God’s woodshed. There was even a lady, again quoting Mother, ‘with a bad reputation.’ You would never have seen Rahab’s picture of the front cover of the Jerusalem Times. But there she is. Right there in the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world.
5 Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab.
At one point in time, they all had to be sent to Babylon till they could learn to behave themselves.
11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah[a] and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.
But then, if you chase all the limbs of the tree, you come to the best, brightest, most delicious apple that anybody has ever tasted. In fact, after two thousand years, this One is still so sweet it is changing lives wherever and whenever will choose to ‘just taste and see how good it is.’
16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
There it is! The Reason for the Season. God shook that family tree for 42 generations, ( verse 17) some good, some not so good, until He found a man named Joseph and a young girl named Mary, who decided to just trust and obey God, even though they didn’t understand what in the world was going on. If you think it’s hard for you and me to understand the Miracle of the Virgin Birth, imagine how hard it might have been for that little teenage girl. Through all those years God was developing His plan and purpose. And when the time was right, He chose the most unlikely two people you could have ever expected to accomplish something spectacular.
Today, life may have you up a tree, or out on a shaky limb. But take a look at your Christmas tree with all its limbs, lights, and lovely ornaments. And even if it’s just a ‘Charley Brown’ tree with crooked limbs and one little ornament, remember that little girl named Mary, “of whom was born Jesus.”
He has something for all of us to do, and He might just be waiting for you to paste your picture on His family tree.