Haw!" laughed Jim Crow. "Haw! Haw! Haw! Haw!" Jim Crow was
literally convulsed with hilarity. In his rollicking joviality
he threw his head back so far he almost fell off his perch on
the old dead tree overlooking Wotta Chump's garden. Haw! Haw!
Haw! Haw! Jim Crow just could not control his mirth as he
fairly doubled up and swayed back and forth giving vent to his
boisterous glee. Denny Bluejay's curiosity got the best of him
and he joined in the commotion and perched on a near-by tree
impatiently calling, "What's so funny? Tell us what is the big
joke." However, Denny did not have long to wait for an answer
because he soon discovered that not only was Jim Crow amused,
but, all the birds in Twitterville were tittering and
snickering with spirits as gay as a lark. "Tsch, tsch, tsch,"
bubbled Roly Blackbird, "What people won't do to fool us
birds. Tsch, tsch, tsch." All Twitterville was simply
exhilarating in the biggest news scoop of the season, and some
of the birds couldn't even hunt worms for laughing.
all started when the chump family decided to plant their
garden in a lovely plot of ground bordering on Twitterville.
Wotta Chump and his wife, Laisy Chump, brought their tools and
dug up the ground, while all the little Chumps helped.
Actually the ground was not tilled very well before Laisy
began tossing a few beans in the ill-prepared soil. Slothful
Chump helped his dad get rid of the seed potatoes as quickly
as possible. Ruthless and Helpless Chump had a gay time
scattering the radish seeds along with the lettuce and
carrots. After all the seeds were planted in their crooked
rows, the Chumps got busy and erected a very elaborate
scarecrow. The upright was at least twelve feet high, and they
covered the enormous arms with rags and old clothes, and then
they fastened on tin cans so they would rattle in the wind.
When it was stuffed with straw it was a strangely grotesque
and fearsome looking sentinel guarding the Chump's garden.
Jim Crow had kept a wary eye on the Chump intrusion of
near-by Twitterville from the very start. He had a "bird's eye
view" of everything, including the curious monstrosity that
continually flapped its wings in the wind. He flew over it
several times, getting closer and closer each time as his
curiosity overcame his fears. He was certain there was
something "phony" about this oddity in the garden, but how
could he be absolutely sure. Just when Jim could scarcely
stand the suspense any longer, Molly Wren came along and broke
the case wide open. Fanny Warbler dared Molly Wren to see who
would fly closest to the scarecrow. Molly won easily when she
landed on the cross-piece and began chirping saucily, "This
can't hurt anyone anyhow." To prove her point she began making
her nest in the scarecrow's pocket. Jim Crow furtively watched
every move that Molly made, and then it finally dawned on him
that the scarecrow was actually quite helpless and harmless.
With this he just burst into one spontaneous derisive guffaw
and before you knew it, all Twitterville was rocked with gales
Not very far from Twitterville there was
another garden owned by Honest Toiler. The toilers prepared
their fertile soil into a soft mulch and then planted their
seed in straight rows. The birds took notice and often wished
they could help themselves, but the Toilers were always around
with their implements protecting their garden from weeds and
pests. As the long summer began to turn into autumn, Honest
Toiler's garden produced an abundant supply of choice
vegetables and fruit for the approaching winter. But when
Wotta Chum came to harvest his crop he found, to his dismay,
there was very little worth carting home. The birds had picked
most of his berries, while the weeds choked out almost
everything else that was planted. Wotta gazed ruefully at the
bedraggled scarecrow and blamed it for not taking better care
of things. The scarecrow mockingly returned the empty stare.
The Chumps had little to anticipate as they faced the prospect
of a long barren winter. Wotta had to admit it was useless to
leave the care and protection of his garden to a scarecrow.
Honest Toiler's garden proved that personal care and
supervision were necessary to bring satisfactory results.
The next Sunday was Thanksgiving Sunday, so Wotta
Chump and his family decided to attend the local community
church, patronized regularly by the Toilers. Although Wotta
expected very little from the sermon, he pricked up his ears
when the minister read his text. He said, "Thou shalt be like
a watered garden. And like a spring of water, whose waters
fail not." Isa. 58:11b. The minister called attention to the
many times our Lord used things in nature to portray spiritual
lessons. "The sower went forth to sow." He pointed out that
careless sowing, either in life or in ordinary farming is "for
the birds" so to speak. He proceeded to say, "God provides all
the elements necessary for a garden, but man must wield the
hoe." "Faith," he said, "is not a substitute for work, nor is
trust merely indifference. A good garden is always the result
of the care it receives."
"Some people," he continued,
"put up a scarecrow to frighten the birds away." It may work
for a time, but even the birds know a dead thing cannot hurt
them. There is a lot of scarecrow religion, " he continued.
"Some parents erect a scarecrow in their homes by telling
their children that if they do certain things they will be
punished, But without a living example, and often being able
to flout the orders with impunity, they soon find pockets in
the scarecrow where they invariable hatch out family trouble.
A garden needs care. The weeds must be ruthlessly uprooted,
water must be provided in times of drought, and protection
from the depredation of the birds must be provided. But the
same thing is true in religion. If your soul is to be like a
watered garden, you must have more than a scarecrow to produce
results. Children are very quick to discern the difference
between a scarecrow and a living person. They soon learn to
treat the scarecrow with mocking contempt and heedless
disregard. If all we do to guide our children is to erect a
few religious scarecrows without a living example and personal
supervision, we cannot expect a very desirable harvest in
their later years."
As the minister portrayed the
beautiful picture of a watered garden with its fine fruits and
nutritious vegetables, Wotta Chump could not get his mind off
his own miserable failure. He heard the minister say, "God can
produce a garden, but even He needs more than a scarecrow to
look after it. If this is true in the natural garden, how much
more it is required in the garden of life. Each child is like
a plant. The child needs constant, personal and living tender
care in order to grow into a mature attractive and useful
character. If you want a godly home with children you can be
proud of, then you will need more than a scarecrow to produce
the results. Finally, if you want your own soul to be like a
watered garden, and if you want your church to provide the
atmosphere to equip people to withstand the weeds of
temptation and the birds that steal your fruitfulness, we will
need more than scarecrow religion," the minister concluded.
As Wotta Chump was slowly going home with his family,
silently thinking about all the minister had said, Jim Crow
spotted him in his wagon. The old tormenter tilted his head
back and derisively laughed, Haw! Haw! Haw! Haw! Wotta Chump
stopped his horses and looked narrowly at his vexing foe. Then
he relaxed and said loud enough for all to hear, "The joke's
on you Mr. Jim Crow. That's the last time anyone is going to
make a laughing stock out of me. I'm through with