It Tells the Story of Courage and Patience that Approaches the Sublime.
THE LESSON—That steadfastness in the right not only keeps the life upright but it restores the repentant one to righteousness.
Each one of us needs the quality called steadfastness—not the obstinacy which denies us the right to judge fair
"Today, we are going to talk about steadfastness. And what does it mean to be steadfast? It means that with God's love to protect us against every temptation, we shall never willingly do anything to grieve Him. A life ruled by this power may grow to be so truly in harmony with the spirit of the Master that even though the waves of trouble dash wildly against it, it will continue to stand firmly, because it knows that 'Jehovah will give grace and glory and no good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly.'
"We shall turn to Nature for our object lesson today. We might select the mighty oak, 'the king of the trees,' to represent the stalwart Christian life which not only withstands the storms, but which, as it strives against the winds, sends its mighty roots ever deeper into the earth; and we might choose as the type of the weak and sinful life the bay tree which does not send its roots deep into the earth and which is in danger of being torn away by every passing storm. But we shall look not at these but at two other trees which are described by Julia Ellen Rogers in her beautiful book, 'Among the Trees.' Says this author, 'There is something almost sublime in the patience and courage of plants!' Doesn't that sound strange? The idea of claiming that plants are courageous and patient! But the writer goes on to prove her words. One tree of which she writes was thrown prostrate upon the ground, crushed down by another tree which fell upon it. There it lay, with some of its roots torn loose from the earth and drying in the heat of the sun. It was left there in the forest to die. [As you speak, draw Step A of Fig. 33.] The writer tells also of a small poplar tree which grew on the sloping side of a mountain. One day, when there was a heavy landslide, the rush of boulders and earth tore the tree from its place and carried it a considerable distance down the side of the mountain. When it stopped sliding, it was left with its top downward, while its roots were lifted toward the sky. [Draw Step B of Fig. 33.] In the rush of the earth, a quantity of soil was spread over a part of the roots. If anyone had seen the tree then, he would have declared that it must surely die.
"But let us turn again to the book. The writer says, 'A tree thrown down may die of its wounds, but if it does not die it seeks to assume an erect position. As long as there is life, there is inspiration,' and, we might add, a reaching upward! Do you get the idea? Even if a tree is thrown down, wounded near to its death, it tries its best to rise, to rise again—to stand upright! This truth is shown by what these two trees did. This first one sent an entirely new tree straight up from the roots, while the old part lay on the ground dead. [Add lines to complete Step C of Fig. 34.] This second one was so determined to grow that it sent out a little sprout and started it to climb straight upward toward the sky; it developed into a strong tree. [Draw lines to complete Step D of Fig. 34; this finishes the drawing.]
"What a splendid lesson there is for us in these true stories from the forest and the mountain. Perhaps, in our weakness, we have not lived as closely to the Master as we should have done, and have become prostrated by our temptations. But there is one mighty to save. It is for us to reach upward in thought, in word and deed. Then will come the sunshine of his loving kindness to give us strength to rise toward Him. The tree, wounded and cast down, can never return to its first condition, but it does its best to rise. We, if we be prostrated by sin, can never rise to be as perfect as we would have been if we had shunned the evil thing; but in humility and service we may rise to receive the Master's 'Well done,' and we may be assured of His tender care if we do our best.
"Let us ever keep our thoughts on Him who 'is able to succor them that are tempted.'"