Emperor Chooses Bride for His Beloved Son

This was posted on an Internet list that I frequent, and reading it today touched me deeply. It is supposedly a well-known story that has circulated among the believers in China during persecution. I do not know who wrote it, but would be happy to give credit where credit is due if we can find a source for this story. Until then, enjoy an incredible story…

An Emperor, seeing his son, the heir, coming to maturity, knew the time had arrived to chose a bride for his son. While this bride would traditionally be selected from the Nobility Class young maidens this Emperor was exceedingly wise. He would open the selection process to all of his realm desiring a maiden of faithfulness to duty and responsibility, one who would be of good character and integrity, in order to rule with his son.

He sent out servants with instructions: Each hopeful applicant would be given one single seed today… one special seed to plant, to water, to maintain and care for, and in one year all were to assemble w/ their plants and the selection of Bride would be made from their offering.

The Kingdom was abuzz with the announcement, and everyone astounded by the wise Emperor’s process. Though it did appear to many, as a rare departure from his usual wisdom.

Among the maidens from far and wide we find a peasant girl named Ling. Returning home w/ seed in hand, excitedly telling her mother of today’s assignment, they secure clay pot and dirt and Ling plants her offering. Faithfully watering it daily, two and three weeks go by and nothing has come up. Four, five, six weeks and still nothing, though she hears other young maidens talking about theirs beginning to grow.

Six months elapse, and still nothing to show in her dirt and clay pot. With heart of hope sinking within her, she just knew she had somehow disqualified herself and killed the seed before it had time to grow. While reports kept coming in at how others had such strong and delightful plants and some even trees growing from the Emperors special seed.

After the year, and with nothing to show, Ling dejectedly decided not to even return for the final selection process, avoiding the humiliation, that peers were sure to give. But her Mother insisted that she follow through, regardless of the result. Finally Ling agrees to attend. Though it did seem such a waste in attendance exercise.

When Ling entered the palace with empty pot in hand, she was overwhelmed by the lush variety of plants grown by the other applicants—all manner of shape and sizes, lush and seemingly prosperous plants for sure. Yes, others eager to weigh her efforts, looked upon her empty pot, and with snickering mixed with sympathy coming from the other young women, it was so very hard to bear. So she slips towards the rear of the room, as if to hide.

When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young women. “My, what great plants, trees and flowers you have grown,” said the emperor. “Today, one of you will be chosen to be the bride of my son, who will in turn be emperor of this kingdom!” All of a sudden, as he was speaking, the Emperor spotted Ling at the back of the room with her empty pot. He ordered his guards to bring her to the front. Ling was terrified.

When Ling got to the front, the Emperor asked her name. “My name is Ling,” she replied. All the women and servants were now laughing and making fun of her.

The emperor asked everyone to quiet down. He looked at Ling, and then announced to the crowd, “Behold the bride of my son! Her name is Ling!”

Ling couldn’t believe it. Ling couldn’t even grow her seed. How could she be the chosen one?

Then the emperor said, “One year ago today, you were each given a seed. I told you to take the seed, plant it, water it, and bring it back to me today. But I gave you all boiled seeds, which would not grow. All of you, except Ling, have brought me trees and plants and flowers because when you found that the seed would not grow, you substituted another seed for the one I gave you. Ling was the only one with the courage and honesty to bring me a pot with my true seed in it, untouched and not substituted with any other life. Therefore, she is the one who will be the wife for my son!”

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16 Comments
  1. maryann February 20, 2005 at 1:19 pm

    wow…

    where do you FIND this stuff…

    this is one of my most interesting blogs to read…

    blessings to you…

  2. maryann February 20, 2005 at 4:19 pm

    wow…

    where do you FIND this stuff…

    this is one of my most interesting blogs to read…

    blessings to you…

  3. Steve February 20, 2005 at 7:07 pm

    Great story. It makes me remember that it is OK to come to Him with an empty pot. He’ll cause the Life to spring up.

  4. Steve February 20, 2005 at 10:07 pm

    Great story. It makes me remember that it is OK to come to Him with an empty pot. He’ll cause the Life to spring up.

  5. Allen February 21, 2005 at 4:50 am

    Great story. And I am on your side on this so this question is an honest one not simply intended as an attack or the start of an arguement.

    How do you square this story with the parable of the talents taught by Jesus?

  6. Dave Lindsay February 21, 2005 at 5:31 am

    Wayne:

    A variation of this story was published as the Empty Pot in 1990 by Charlotte Demi Hunt Huang.

    http://www.bcplonline.org/kidspage/demi.html

  7. Allen February 21, 2005 at 7:50 am

    Great story. And I am on your side on this so this question is an honest one not simply intended as an attack or the start of an arguement.

    How do you square this story with the parable of the talents taught by Jesus?

  8. Dave Lindsay February 21, 2005 at 8:31 am

    Wayne:

    A variation of this story was published as the Empty Pot in 1990 by Charlotte Demi Hunt Huang.

    http://www.bcplonline.org/kidspage/demi.html

  9. Wayne Jacobsen February 21, 2005 at 10:07 am

    Allen,

    I think it goes along well with the parable of the talents. Both ‘parables’ are about doing exactly what the Master asks. In the parable of the talents, some used what God gave them and one only buried it. He did so because he was so afraid of God he was unwilling to take a risk and therefore could not be fruitful.

    In this story the young girl does exactly what she is asked to do. She buries a seed, not a treasure. She has the courage to come anyway and face the rest of the crowd convinced she was a failure. She proves her faithfulness to the Emperor, and her genuineness by doing only what she had been asked to do and not trying to pretend otherwise. She risked humiliation in her obedience, rather than fake a result like so many others.

    Both parables are about using what God gives you exactly the way God desires you to. And in that there is great joy.

  10. Wayne Jacobsen February 21, 2005 at 1:07 pm

    Allen,

    I think it goes along well with the parable of the talents. Both ‘parables’ are about doing exactly what the Master asks. In the parable of the talents, some used what God gave them and one only buried it. He did so because he was so afraid of God he was unwilling to take a risk and therefore could not be fruitful.

    In this story the young girl does exactly what she is asked to do. She buries a seed, not a treasure. She has the courage to come anyway and face the rest of the crowd convinced she was a failure. She proves her faithfulness to the Emperor, and her genuineness by doing only what she had been asked to do and not trying to pretend otherwise. She risked humiliation in her obedience, rather than fake a result like so many others.

    Both parables are about using what God gives you exactly the way God desires you to. And in that there is great joy.

  11. jim pierceall February 28, 2005 at 7:47 am

    Thanks Dave Lindsey: <<A variation of this story was published as the Empty Pot in 1990 by Charlotte Demi Hunt Huang.

    http://www.bcplonline.org/kidspage/demi.html >>

    Demi tells: Demi is married to Tze-si Jesse Huang, and has listened to him tell the folk tales and fables that he had heard as a child. The Empty Pot and the Magic Boat are two of her books that came about through his retelling.

    Folk tales and fables that her husband had heard as a child – she reworked? This may even lean credibility to having floated around chinese housechurches, before surfacing here…?

    Thanks JimP

  12. jim pierceall February 28, 2005 at 10:47 am

    Thanks Dave Lindsey: <<A variation of this story was published as the Empty Pot in 1990 by Charlotte Demi Hunt Huang.

    http://www.bcplonline.org/kidspage/demi.html >>

    Demi tells: Demi is married to Tze-si Jesse Huang, and has listened to him tell the folk tales and fables that he had heard as a child. The Empty Pot and the Magic Boat are two of her books that came about through his retelling.

    Folk tales and fables that her husband had heard as a child – she reworked? This may even lean credibility to having floated around chinese housechurches, before surfacing here…?

    Thanks JimP

  13. Nina January 26, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Wayne, would you please help me with something, Brother?

    I’ve been listening to the talks I downloaded from the Transition page, & it’s a transition my heart longs for, but I bump into stuff in the Bible (NT) that I just don’t see can be coming from the same perspective. I hear you saying that Father doesn’t want the relationship of servant to Master any more, since in John 15, Jesus says, “Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends,” and I can’t understand, why then did Jesus tell all these parables about the Master & His servants, like the one you just mentioned about the talents. I read that parable, and can only see that our Master, God,
    #1 Has expectations of us as His servants
    #2 Is very happy with us when we meet those expectations
    #3 Is either very angry or wants nothing to do with us when we don’t

    And I know all that sounds awful & judgmental of me about Father, but I’m just being honest about what I see. I cannot read that parable all the way through – every verse in it – & not come to those conclusions, no matter how I try to keep in mind that God loves us more than we could know & wants the relationship of Father to Abba-aged child. So I wanted to ask if you would help me see it from the Abba point of view?

  14. Nina January 26, 2010 at 3:09 am

    Wayne, would you please help me with something, Brother?

    I’ve been listening to the talks I downloaded from the Transition page, & it’s a transition my heart longs for, but I bump into stuff in the Bible (NT) that I just don’t see can be coming from the same perspective. I hear you saying that Father doesn’t want the relationship of servant to Master any more, since in John 15, Jesus says, “Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends,” and I can’t understand, why then did Jesus tell all these parables about the Master & His servants, like the one you just mentioned about the talents. I read that parable, and can only see that our Master, God,
    #1 Has expectations of us as His servants
    #2 Is very happy with us when we meet those expectations
    #3 Is either very angry or wants nothing to do with us when we don’t

    And I know all that sounds awful & judgmental of me about Father, but I’m just being honest about what I see. I cannot read that parable all the way through – every verse in it – & not come to those conclusions, no matter how I try to keep in mind that God loves us more than we could know & wants the relationship of Father to Abba-aged child. So I wanted to ask if you would help me see it from the Abba point of view?

  15. Wayne January 26, 2010 at 11:12 am

    Nina, throughout the Gospels, Jesus is talking between two kingdoms. There’s the old kingdom of the master/servant analogy fits the flesh’s struggle against sin, and our complete inability to satisfy those demands in ourselves.

    And on the other side he is inviting people into his Father’s kingdom, where living loved and loving fulfills everything God would ever require of us. Jesus met the obligations of a servant, so we could live in his joy as sons and daughters.

    I’m not sure Father ever wanted the King/Sovereign image, but it was what restrained sin until Christ could come and redeem us through is atoning death. God has always been love, entreating us with his tenderness, but until that provision was made at the cross, we couldn’t see him that way and would only cower away in shame.

  16. Wayne January 26, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Nina, throughout the Gospels, Jesus is talking between two kingdoms. There’s the old kingdom of the master/servant analogy fits the flesh’s struggle against sin, and our complete inability to satisfy those demands in ourselves.

    And on the other side he is inviting people into his Father’s kingdom, where living loved and loving fulfills everything God would ever require of us. Jesus met the obligations of a servant, so we could live in his joy as sons and daughters.

    I’m not sure Father ever wanted the King/Sovereign image, but it was what restrained sin until Christ could come and redeem us through is atoning death. God has always been love, entreating us with his tenderness, but until that provision was made at the cross, we couldn’t see him that way and would only cower away in shame.

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