Around five years ago, one of my best friends shared with me this beautiful ancient Chinese parable. It has always been a favorite of mine, because it describes so simply and profoundly what it truly means to let go and let God lead and use us to fulfill our purpose in life. It hurts to surrender our wants and wishes and conform them to what God wants from us. It takes humility and trust. Sometimes it means letting go of people and things we hold dear... But if we continue to love our Master and trust in His love and plans for us, in the end there is a masterpiece more beautiful than we can imagine... This is what it means to surrender oneself to Christ...
Once upon a time, there was a beautiful garden. There in the cool of the day the Master of the garden would walk. Of all the denizens of the garden, the most beloved was a gracious and noble Bamboo. Year after year, Bamboo grew yet more noble and gracious, conscious of his Master's love and watchful delight, but he was alsways modest and gentle.
Often, when Wind came to revel in the garden, Bamboo would cast aside his grave stateliness, to dance and play merrily, tossing and swaying and leaping and bowing in joyous abandon, leading the garden in the Great Dance which most delighted the Master's heart.
Now one day, the Master drew near to contemplate his Bamboo with eyes of curious expectancy. Bamboo, in a passion of adoration, bowed his great head to the ground in loving greeting. The Master spoke:
"Bamboo, I wish to use you."
Bamboo flung his head to the sky in utter delight. The day had come, the day for which he had been made, the day to which he had been growing hour by hour, the day in which he would find his completion and his destiny. His voice became low.
"Master, I am ready. Use me as you will."
"Bamboo," the Master's voice was grave, "I will have to take you and cut you down."
A trembling of a great horror shook Bamboo.
"Cut me down? Me, whom you have made the most beautiful in all your Garden?
Cut me down?
Oh, not that! Use me for your joy, Master, but please do not cut me down."
"Beloved Bamboo," the Master's voice gew even more grave, "If I do not cut you down, I cannot use you."
The Garden grew still. Wind held his breath. Bamboo slowly bent his proud and glorious head, and he whispered,
"Master, if you can't use me unless you cut me down, then do your will and cut."
"Bamboo, beloved Bamboo, I will have to cut your leaves and branches from you also."
"Master, spare me. Cut me down and lay my beauty in the dust, but would you also take from me my leaves and branches?
"If I do not cut them away, I cannot use you."
The Sun hid his face, A listening butterfly glided fearfully away. Bamboo shivered in terrible expectancy, whispering low,
"Master, cut away."
"I will also have to cleave you in two and cut out your heat, for if I do not cut so, I cannot use you."
Bamboo bowed to the ground in sorrow.
"Master," he whispered, 'then cut and cleave."
So the Master of the garden took Bamboo and cut him down and hacked off his branches and stripped him of his leaves and clove him in two and cut out his heart, and, lifting him gently, carried him to where there was a spring of fresh, sprakling water in the midst of his dry field, the Master laid down gently his beloved Bamboo. The spring sang welcome, and the clear, sparkling waters raced joyously down the channel of Bamboo's torn body into the waiting fields.
Then the rice was planted, and the days went by, and the shoots grew, and the harvest came. In that day Bamboo, once so glorious in his stately beauty, was yet more glorious in his brokenness and humility. For in his beauty he was life abundant, but in his brokenness he became a channel of abundant life to his Master's world.