The bamboo pipe has become one of my favorite images of the life of faith: my goal is to get out of the way of the water and to be used by God to pour his Holy Spirit into the lives of people around me. The picture here is that of a water wheel drawing the water up from the river and then pouring into the bamboo pipes that carry the water into the rice patties nearby. The bamboo cannot be full of itself, because that clogs up the water. The bamboo must die to itself and be emptied out to give space for the water. When the Farmer puts his hands to the bamboo, the bamboo gives life to the harvest, whether it is rice or some other crop.
Over the last thirty years, I have had the experience of travelling and living in South East Asia. I am preparing to go back to Asia again–and to prepare for yet another visit next year. I had no idea what God had in mind when I went to China for the first time in 1983. It has been and remains an incredible adventure. That’s the way it is with bamboo: to be used as a water pipe, the bamboo must let go of its rooting and trust the Farmer to place it in just the right place. Most often the piece of bamboo is one of many pieces tied together: no piece is a complete pipe or irrigation system by itself. This life of faith is an adventure trusting God to use me where and when he chooses; trusting that he is likewise calling others to be joined together in his field and his work.
I am excited to be travelling again: the Father has raised up a small flexible team; he has provided prayer and financial support; and the timing is electric with anticipation. Even so, the bamboo knows that the water can only flow at a cost, and often, a painful one at that. I am not concerned about an upset stomach or the other common inconveniences of travel. I am concerned however about the selfishness, impatience, and arrogance that lurks in my heart, those sins which I must repeatedly surrender to the Lord. Those are the sins which travel has a way of exposing to the Light of the Lord.
Lord, open my heart, clean out anything that clogs my life, and make me a channel for your life-giving Holy Spirit. Thank you Father for calling me into this adventure, use me as you will, and stir up each of us that we would work together according to your purposes.