Searching For Purpose And Meaning? The Story Of Bamboo



You don’t need to be religious to realize that our world has a design and an order. All you have to do is look around at nature and see the beauty of its design… like the fact that trees produce oxygen so we can breathe and we produce carbon dioxide so trees can breathe. Like taking a look at your own hands and realizing you are the only one in the history of the world who has ever had your fingerprints. Like seeing the beautiful design of marriage and how together, a man and a woman marry, procreate and build society. It all has meaning. It all has a purpose.


Divorce seems to be the anti-purpose equation in society today. Divorce shouldn’t happen, but it does. For at least half the divorced men and women, it was something that happened against their will. They did not want it but were forced into it. That is, perhaps, the most devastating aspect of all.


When a divorce occurs and the family is broken, people are left with a deep sense that their purpose in life is lost. They look to the future and cannot see a design, they cannot see order or purpose. It is the darkness of the great unknown and a terrible thing to face. But does divorce really mean there is no more meaning? Does a divorced person really no longer have purpose?


Nothing could be further from the truth.


Scripture tells us: “But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make (Jeremiah 18:4).


The tragedy of divorce and all it’s suffering does not mean your purpose in life is gone. On the contrary, it reveals a new road, one with a new meaning and a new purpose. I’d like to share with you this allegory, an old Chinese parable to help illustrate my point:


Once upon a time lay a beautiful garden. And there in the cool of the day was the Master of the garden, who went for a walk. Of all the dwellers of the garden, the most beautiful and beloved was a gracious Bamboo. Year after year Bamboo grew yet more beautiful and he was conscious of his Master’s love and watchful delight. Yet he was modest and gentle.


One day the Master drew near to contemplate his beloved Bamboo. With eyes of curious expectancy, Bamboo bowed his great head to the ground in loving greeting.


The Master spoke: “Bamboo, Bamboo, I wish to use you.”
Bamboo flung his head to the sky in utter delight. Bamboo said, “Master, I am ready, use me as you will!”

“Bamboo,” the Master’s voice was grave, “I need to cut you down.”


A trembling of horror shook Bamboo. “Cut me down? Me, whom You, Master, have made beautiful in Your garden? To cut me down? Ah, not that! Not that! Use me for Your joy, O Master, but cut me not down!”


“Beloved Bamboo,” the Master’s voice grew graver still, “if I don’t cut you down, I cannot use you.”


The garden grew still. Wind held his breath. Bamboo slowly bent his proud head. There came a whisper. Bamboo replied, “Master, if You cannot use me unless You cut me down, then do Your will and cut!”


“Bamboo, beloved Bamboo, I would cut your leaves and branches from you also.”
“Master, Master, spare me! Cut me down and lay my beauty in the dust, but would You take from me my leaves and branches also?”


“Bamboo, alas! 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.”


“Bamboo, Bamboo, I would divide you in two and cut out your heart, for if I do not cut so, I cannot use you.”

“Master, Master, then cut and divide.”


So did the Master of the garden took Bamboo and cut him down and hacked off his branches and stripped off his leaves and divided him in two and cut out his heart.


Lifting him gently, he carried him to where there was a spring of fresh, sparkling water Bambooin the midst of Master’s dry fields. Putting down one end of Bamboo in the spring, and the other into the water channel in his field, the Master laid down gently his beloved Bamboo.


The spring sang “welcome”! The clear sparkling water raced joyously down the channel of Bamboo’s torn body into the waiting fields. Then the rice was planted and the days went by. The shoots grew. The harvest came. In that day was Bamboo, once so glorious in his stately beauty, yet now 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!


Never forget that you are precious in the eyes of God and if you are willing, He will make you even more beautiful and use you now, more than ever.




  1. Brenda-74660 November 30, 2012 Reply

    I like that, never really thought about bamboo in that way but it is so nice. Thank you for sharing this story.

  2. Lia-74118 December 1, 2012 Reply

    Thank you for this beautiful and meaningful story :)

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