Trees Need Skillful Surgery More Often Than People Do—Superfluous Branches.
THE LESSON—That the life which wastes its strength in unnecessary efforts cannot bring forth the best fruits.
That the boys and girls may realize the sad results of forming habits which hinder growth, development and fruit-bearing, is one of the great objects of the teaching of the Sunday school. Rally Day is an especially appropriate time for a lesson along this line of thought.
"A stranger from the East was visiting a large fruit farm in the celebrated Hood River Valley in Oregon. He was astonished at the size and appearance of the growing apples, and he asked the owner of the fruit farm to tell him the secret of such wonderful results.
"'There is no secret at all,' responded the fruit raiser. 'You see, if a tree is allowed to do as it pleases, it usually covers itself with a vast number of useless branches and a multitude of leaves, which are of no benefit whatever except to make shade; and when a tree has too many branches and too many leaves it requires so much strength to keep them alive that there isn't enough left to put into the fruit. In other words, the tree can't bear large, fine fruit if it must also support a lot of useless branches and leaves.' This is the way an apple tree will grow if it is allowed to have its own way. [With the broad side of your green chalk, draw the general form of the tree, Fig. 118; add the trunk and dead branches in brown, and draw the grass with green, and the apples in red, completing Fig. 118.]
"'Such a tree can never bear good apples,' continued the fruit man. 'Many of its branches die, because the tree simply can't support so many limbs and leaves. Notice that all our trees are carefully trimmed.' And he pointed the visitor to trees that looked like this: [Draw the second tree, using the same colors as in Fig. 118, completing Fig. 119.]
"'It is an absolute fact,' added the fruit man, 'that if we allow these unnecessary leaves and branches to stay on the tree they absorb the life and strength which must go into the fruit if we are to raise fruit for which there is a market. So we cut off everything that can be spared, and we get the best fruit that grows.'
"'Then it doesn't all depend upon the place where the fruit is grown?' observed the visitor.
"'No,' laughed the fruit man. 'Many people think it does. Of course, the soil and climate have a good deal to do with it, and we must prepare the ground and keep it in the proper condition; we must also keep the trees free from disease and insects. But all of this same work has to be done, no matter where the apples are raised, and the soil and climate in many other parts of the United States are just as good as they are here. It depends upon the know-how!
"Ah, that's the secret! It depends upon the know-how!
"Boys and girls, on this Rally Day, let me ask you: Are you going to let your life grow to be like this tree? [Indicate the first.] Or is it to be like this one? [Indicate the second.] What do I mean? Here is what I mean:
"If a girl lets her thoughts run too much to clothes and parties—if she worries about her failure to do the things which other girls can do, and which God never intended she also should do—if she is spending her time reading books which can never be of any possible good to her—if she is becoming fault-finding, cynical, cross, selfish—if she is doing any of these things which keep her from being what she ought to be—her everyday life needs trimming! Think it over. If you find any useless, strength-absorbing thing in your life, cut it out!
"Boys, are you letting any bad habits grow into your life? Are you wasting your time running after pleasures and amusements that don't help you to be better boys? Are you getting chummy with other boys whose companionship is not good and whose words and deeds you would not dare to talk about at home? Are you reading useless books and letting the treasures of literature on mother's bookshelf at home go untouched? Are you trying to find short-cuts to success, when there isn't any such thing, and neglecting the hard work which has brought honor and success to all who have reached a high place? If you are doing any of these things, get out the pruning hook of good resolution and the sharp ax of determination. Trim off all these useless things. Gather them in a heap and burn them. Then, in the years to come, will you find that you have been able to be of use to the world and to yourself. But you can't do it with these useless, strength-robbing things growing on your lives. Among the last words of Jesus on earth were these: 'Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.' If we are to bear much fruit, we must trim off the useless things and allow the bright sunshine of His approval and guidance to come into our lives."
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