Parable of the flute maker
Caution: This may be edifying to your soul and spirit
God wants to make you into an Instrument!
In a Nutshell: He wants to pull you out of darkness, mature you, build you, play you and share you with others. He wants His very presence to be in you so that His grace and peace, the music of life can fill you, fulfill you and overflow through you. He wants you be a blessing in this world. He also wants you well tuned to represent Him in the market place of life.
Harvesting bamboo is beautiful, exhausting and lots of fun. It is always an adventure. When I enter the bamboo groves, I stand still and behold all the bamboo before me. It is a silent prayerful time of gratitude for God’s provision in my life. I listen to its creaking in the wind and the gentle purr of the breeze on the leafy tops. Soon I begin to focus on the different lengths and widths of the segments before me. Each piece of bamboo will become a different instrument.
Having made over 100,000 flutes in my 35 years of flutemaking, I can hear the different flutes in my memory. When I see the specific dimensions of one of my instruments out in the bamboo groves and focus on one segment, I can instantly hear in my memory what it is going to be. When I see the right piece for the Vivaldi flute, I can hear that bamboo segment playing its beautiful harmonic scale. It’s like the piece just begins to compose music in G sharp minor. It is so cool! When I see the wider and longer segments, I can hear the rich tones of the pentatonic Oriental flute. I get so excited when I see the long joints of the Low Irish Flute, the thin Pennywhistle material and the bamboo to make the wider Bamboo Saxes. Every segment of bamboo has its perfect proportions to be a unique instrument.
So too, God the Master Builder knows what you were best made to become. And as I rejoice in the subtropical bamboo groves, God too, rejoices over you. I might be thinking, ”Oh, nice Brazilian Majors over here, and nice Alto Saxes back there”, and God might be saying, "I have called this one to have great insight in My word, This one will move mountains in prayer, this one will be a Christian mechanic, this one I have deposited my creative talent to be an artist, a writer..."
We are all different and unique. Every flute has its own look and character when played. Those who know, say every snow flake is different and beautiful. If I had been God, I would have made a great looking snow flake on a black board and said Ah-ha! There it is, and copy my nice one. But not God! They are all different and all incredible to behold. They don't call the Creator, 'Creator' for nothing. We all look different, have different thum prints, personalities and giftings from God. We are uniquely made and He loves us. All of us. For God so loved the world....John 3:16
I pick the bamboo that I want to be with and I am reminded of Mark 3: 13, talking about Jesus, it says “He went up to the mountain and summoned (Called) those whom He wanted and they came to Him.
If you woke up this morning with Jesus in your heart, it’s really because He has summoned you, He has called you, and He wants to be with you. He wants to be with you today, tomorrow, next week all this year and your whole life into eternity.
And He is still calling His sheep. It is His will that none should perish.
And if you are feeling His tug, don’t forget He said, “Come unto Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest”. And, “I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost”.
But to become who you were meant to be is a process, an adventure, a journey.
To the natural eye it is beautiful there inside the shaded bamboo groves. Not like the penetrating glare of the brilliant sun which always hurts my eyes, especially when driving. The green bamboo canopy filters out the light. Here the eyes are open, taking in the rich natural browns, beiges and the many diverse hues of lush greens. It is so beautiful.
But spiritually speaking, in this parable, this place can represent a place of Darkness. Humankind has an ongoing love affair with his own darkness. A place devoid of God’s light, truth, peace and joy. A place where man (because of rejecting God and His ways) finds himself in a world of abandonment, loneliness, trouble, violence, fear, sickness, war, hate, unforgiveness, lies, hurt, turmoil, deception...
Strangely enough, as I enjoy the beauty of the dark groves, man too enjoys his darkness. His late night at the gambling table, his room full of smoke, his profane language, his hot pursuit of the women he chases, his drugs, his pride and ego, his not willing to forgive and on and on and on...
And as my eyes hurt in bright sun the one living in darkness doesn't want to hear about the light; thinking it disturbs and hurts them.
Psalm 107:10 says, “There were those who dwelt in darkness and the shadow of death, prisoners of misery.”
I am reminded of my own darkness that surrounded me as a teen. One day my best friend Joe, on LSD, went up a 14 story building in New York City, climbed onto the ledge, bent backwards twirling his arms forward to keep himself from falling, saying “Look at me, look at me.” Later Joe died of a heroin overdose. Bobby, my second best friend started out sniffing glue, went on to drinking, then pot and got into heroin. One day packing a gun he killed someone and spent years in prison. Bob, my third best friend and a great gifted artist, mixed heroin and cocaine and shot up and died. In the morning Marco (who lit himself on fire on LSD) found him dead. Later Marco left college and lived underground by the tracks of New York City that skirt the west side park dealing drugs. I was told Lorie and Kim killed themselves and Tom fell off a wall stoned and died. Harry overdosed and died. Jimmy died of Aids. I heard Tex overdosed and lost his mind. I remember seeing him walking the streets. Later, Chris joined up with guerillas in Argentina and was shot as she ran out firing at the police who were surrounding her hide out; she died in the hail of bullets.
I see the hundreds and thousands of bamboos around me and spiritually speaking I see them as people and am reminded of the Bible verse in Joel 3:14 which says, “Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision.”
How many of us will follow the Master?
We live in a time of much darkness. One of today’s favorite dark drugs is call the Date Rape drug. We see on our TV sets people who will blow themselves up taking innocent lives with them believing they are going to heaven and will get a bunch of virgins when they get there.
But then there is hope! There is a voice calling out from the corridors of time. “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Jesus.
The light in the grove does penetrate the darkness.
“I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” Jesus
The apostle Paul the famous persecuter who used to have Christians thrown into prison and was in favor of their execution had an amazing encounter with God.
At this divine appointment Jesus appears to Paul who was on his way to Damascus to imprison Christians. On the road Paul is immediately changed and Jesus Commissions him to take his message to the world. Jesus tells Paul “To open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light and from the domain of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins “ Acts 26:18
Later he would write in Col.1:13 For He (God) delivered us out of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son (Jesus).
Peter, one of the original disciples said in 1 Peter 2:9 You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
For you were once not a people, but now you are the people of God you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy.
[and His mercies are new every morning]
The Bamboo is cut with a saw. It will never again be the same. I grab it and pull it out from its dark place into the light. When I surrendered to the Lord Jesus I would never be the same again. It was a process from one stage of glory to the next. From glory to glory says the scriptures.
I have come out of the darkness have you?
(John the Baptist’s father was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied) "Because of the tender mercies of God, ... the Sunrise from on high shall visit us to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death to guide our feet into the way of peace." Luke 1:78, 79
Once in a while I will see a bamboo tree way inside the patch that I just have to have. I will struggle to get through spider webs, over and under and around bamboo . Then I clear the area to work to cut it. Almost always using muscles that I rarely use. I am working here. Once cut, I delight in my valued trophy but I need help to get it out. I call my apprentice Leo to come and help. He is always faithful and comes. Thus the Master Jesus is going into the darkness to bring folks out and asks His disciples for help. We should lend Him a hand. It would be sad if Leo would call out, 'I don’t want to come. That bamboo is too far into the darkness, it is too dirty.' Well yea it is true, it is far in and dirty but what value once I make it into a tuned instrument.
I remember last year hearing that an assassin came to the Lord after I shared this message in a prison in Venezuela. God does most of the work; we just go and open our mouths and He fills it and fills our hearts with heaven’s love. Last year in Colombia I was able to lead a paramilitary warrior to Christ. Got to bring dinner to a gang at 2 am on the streets of San Jose Costa Rica. One guy, 22 years on the streets took my testimony and later became a Christian. He is off the street and is holding a job.Mark 16:20 says, “And they went out and preached everywhere while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the word with signs that followed.”
(If the Lord is out here working with us, I bet He’s working harder than us to accomplish His will.)
The Bamboo is Cured in Teepees
Day by day the sun passes and cures the bamboo. In just two days the green leaves curl. After a month they have turned beige and will fall to the ground. From a dark green the bamboo gets lighter and lighter and will turn beige too.
As the sun cures the bamboo, the Son matures the believer.
Spiritually speaking the curing teepee reminds me of believers gathered together intent on maturing in the things of God. As a believer walks in the light and lives in the light he grows up. Concerning Christian fellowship we are reminded: Forsake not the gathering of the believers. Hebrews 10:25
The teepee gathers at the top pointing upwards. A picture of our focus towards the things above, of God. Colossians 3:2 tells us "Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on the earth".
And there in fellowship we begin to mature, and as the green bamboo dies, we too are dieing to our old selves. We have been born again, we have a new life, and though our old friends may think we are dead, we have become alive to God. And we are growing up in Him.
What or Who is the Light?
Jesus said, "I Am the light of the world, he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life." John 8:12
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path. Ps.119:105
You were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord, walk as children of light, for the fruit of the light consists of all goodness and righteousness and truth. Trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness.
He will bring me out to the light and I will see His righteousness. Micah 7:9
Where do we find the Light? In Him, in His word, in prayer, in walking in the truth, in praise and worship.
Once the bamboo is almost cured and ready to take down, I have a problem. I believe the Master has the same problem too. I need to clip the dead branches. I can not make flutes with the branches in the way. Thus there are things in our lives that God wants out of the way in order to make us into an instrument. When I came to the Lord one of the things God took away was my profanity. He clipped away my anger towards the government having been in the Viet Nam era. I let Him take away my occult beliefs, my occult library got burned when I read Acts 19:19 'And many who practiced magic brought their books together and began burning them...' Let the Holy Spirit clip you! So He can continue to work with you in order to use you.
The Table Saw
The bamboo is placed on a wooden shoot and one at a time they are pulled into the shop through a porthole and are cut. When I turn on the electric saw it makes a roar.
If the long 25-ft. bamboo pole could speak what might it say?
“I hear the sound of a roaring saw! Who is it for?”
“It’s for you!”Says the Master.
“Me, why me?”
“Because I am making you into an instrument. And there is too much of you. In order to use you I have to reduce you down to the right size.”
The long bamboo replies, “ Didn't’t you already pull me out of darkness?”
“Didn’t you have me curing in the light?”
“Didn’t you cut my branches? And now what?
The Master: “If I am going to use you, I need to humble you.”
The Bamboo: “But it’s going to hurt!”
The Master says, “It always hurts when one is humbled.”
The process continues; the flute maker pulls and cuts, pulls and cuts, segment after segment.
If the bamboo could speak at this moment, what might it be saying?
Ahhhhhhh! Ahhhhhh! Ahhhh!
And the Master says as he cuts “I want to work with this piece and this piece and this piece.”
Then pointing to the mind He says, “I want to work with this piece,” then he points to the heart, “And this piece” and finally points to the tongue and feet and says, “I want to work here and here too. Learn to speak life and learn to walk shod with the gospel of peace."
Washing the bamboo:
The bamboo blanks are then scrubbed clean. About a dozen at a time are dropped into a large sink in the workshop. After that dozen are scrubbed the water begins to turn dark. After the next dozen it is time to change the water. In Ephesians 5:26 we see the concept of being sanctified: set apart to be free of sin cleansed by the washing of the Word to be a holy and blameless people. In other words, His word the scriptures helps to keep us cleansed.
It is time to pull the perfect model from the wall to copy it. I lay the master flute next to the bamboo blank and mark the blank with a pencil where the holes should go. If I can copy the perfect one it will come out great.
Colossians 1:15 says, “And He is the image of the invisible God” If you want to see the invisible Father look to Jesus.
Jesus is the perfect one. And if we come along side of Him and are marked by His character we will be like Him.
But where do we find Jesus to be able to be like Him?
He is revealed in the Old and New Testament. Reading the gospels of Mathew, Mark, Luke and John are like going on a vacation with Jesus. When I began to read the gospels He began leaving footprints in my heart.
As you read about Him you will find that he loved children. We should love kids too. He spoke the truth we should not embrace falsehood in our lives. He was compassionate and we should be too. He was led of the Spirit thus we should learn to be led. He Loved the Father and was a man of prayer, we should also love God and pray. He enjoyed both the disciples and the publicans and had heaven’s love for all and we should too.
We can also sense Him as His Spirit moves when we gather. When two or three are gathered in His name He is there. We find Him in prayer, in praise and worship. Even the glorious beautiful creation reflects the character of the Lord and speaks volumes of the beautiful creator. And the world was made through Him. Says John.
Colossians 2:6 says, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord so walk ye in Him.”
Burning the holes:
I fire up the furnace and put the irons in. They are soon red hot. It is time to poke the holes.
The furnace roars and if the bamboo could speak what might it say?
“I hear the sound of a roaring fire! Who is it for?”
And once again the Master would say, “It is for you!”
“For me? But why? This is going to hurt! Didn’t you wash me clean and mark me with character and humble me and cut away what you didn’t want and mature me in the sun and pull me out of darkness? What are you doing now? (sniff, sniff)”
In John 16:33 we read, “In the world you shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer for I have overcome the world.” Jesus
In the hard times that come, my message is stay in the hand of the Master. For where His hand is, His eye is and where his eye is His heart is near. In hard times don’t go jumping out of His hand. If my flute were to fall at this stage and roll under my work bench it would find itself in a dark forsaken place. It is hard to clean there and one would find it dark and lonely with lots of saw dust, old sand paper and probably a skeleton of a lizard. Better to stay with God in those difficult times.
If you take Coca Cola in a glass and shake your hand what comes out? Coke! Why? Because that’s what was in it. When God shakes you up; or life, or the devil, what comes out of you? God wants Jesus to come out. So in the hard times stay in His hand.
Sanding the flute:
Each flute can tell a story which can be read in its markings. In the bamboo grove when it’s windy one can hear the bamboo creak as they rub against each other. After a life time of rubbing, the enamel of the tough skin is eaten away leaving scars. These scars need to be specially sanded to be able to drink the applied oil later on. When properly operated on, those markings become beautiful and give character and value to the flute.
In our own past darkness we too have been rubbed the wrong way in the storms of life and have scars. And the Master wants to heal those wounds. Even the ones we have caused other people. Let the Master heal you. Be honest with your pain and ask someone capable to help you walk it through. Join them in prayer and believe God. Forgive. And forgive yourself too. Then you can be a comfort and a blessing to others and they will have hope because you are well.
Cleaning inside the flute:
Inside each piece of bamboo is a saw-dust like pith. It must be cleaned out. If it is not, the flute has little volume, does not articulate well and is hard to play. Once in a while a flute will get by me without cleaning the inside. There it shows up on the table at a show. Someone walks up and says, “What is this?” “Well this is a copy of the Japanese Shaquhachi, 7th century; would you like to hear it?” I pick it up ready to make it sound as nice as I can and whoa... I get all out of character, I don’t care about the sale any more, I’m trying to find out what’s wrong with the flute. This is God’s heart. He can’t use you to full potential when you don’t “Sound” right. I look to see if there is a crack near the top, A small bug hole on the sides, then, “Oh my, I forgot to clean the flute”. May we also say, “Oh my, I forgot to clean my heart”.
I once heard about something that happened to an invited minister while he was sharing in a church; he glanced over to the far right and noticed an older lady with a depressed angry sour face. He wondered what had happened. Then as he spoke he panned the congregation and on the far left, there she was again! The same lady, sour and angry. He looked back to the right, then to the left, they were twins! And he found out that they were mad at each other over some thing and hadn’t spoken to each other in years.
The scripture says, Be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32
To walk this life with a pure heart is not as easy anymore. We live in a culture where we get constantly hit with pornography, lust, anger If we yield to this stuff and not let it get dealt with properly we loose our “volume” our joy, our testimony. We end up walking in shame and quiet desparation.We loose the desire to share the love of God with others. The desire to lift Him up in the market of life. If we don't take care of this we will loose our walk with God, our joy will flee, we won't open the Bible or want to be with His people, we wont praise Him and it just gets worse.
We need our hearts to be clean.
1 John 1:9 says “If we confess our sins. He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
2 John 1:1 My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous
I recall a time when my wife packed the dish washer, put the soap in and closed the door. When we returned from the church service she opened the dishwasher door pulled out the dishes and they were still dirty. She yelled out, "They’re still dirty! What happened?" I looked over to her and said, did you turn on the button? She hadn’t. When we go to be with the church and sing and hear the word of God, let’s not forget to turn on the button and ask God to clean our hearts.
The neat thing is He will clean your heart if you ask Him wherever you are.
King David wrote:
“Create in me a clean heart, oh God. And renew a right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from thy presence, and do not take Thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit”. Psalm 51:10
Tuning: It is now time to play the flute for the first time. I want it in tune and I have an electronic tuner. I will do whatever I can to tune it to the best of my ability. Opening up the mouthpiece to raise the overall pitch of the flute and carving inside the mouthpiece to give the flute a more cathedral sound. Sanding the bottom to raise the pitch of the lowest note. Opening up certain holes with bigger irons to sharpen those notes. Carving inside those holes if the iron hole gets too big and I still need to raise the pitch.
This too, I believe is the heart of the Lord for us. He wants us in tune. And will do whatever He can to get us there. Why? Because He wants us to enjoy Him and represent Him well in the market place of life. For example, He forgives and to represent Him we have to forgive too.
Un-forgiveness will keep one out of tune. Let the Lord tweak you to be the best instrument you can be. He is jealous for His breath, His presence to be in you and through you. He wants to play heavens music inside of you to be heard in this hurting world. So let Him tweak you.
Paul wrote in his letter to the Phillippians (1:6)
I am confident that He who began a good work in you will perfect it till the day of Jesus Christ.
Remember the prayer of Saint Francis “Oh Lord make me an instrument of Thy peace”
Before the flute leaves the shop bound for the market, I oil it. And it comes alive. It looks so beautiful when it is oiled. Oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit. When we are lubricated by the Spirit we have joy and look great. The Holy Spirit was sent as Jesus went to the Father. He is here today and very much alive and well. The Holy Spirit wants to communicate with us and lift Jesus up.
Once when my oldest daughter Hannah was only five, (she is 27 now) she said to me, “Daddy I think I got filled with the Spirit.” “How do you know Hannah?” I said. “Well daddy, He spoke to me.” “Well, what did he say, Hannah?” “Well daddy, he said ‘Don’t do that.’ ”
The Holy Spirit wants to guide us and I believe He speaks to us a lot and says “Don’t do that, don’t say that, don’t go there, don't watch that, apologize...” Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Helper. Who would hear from the Father and share the father’s heart with us. Jesus also said the Spirit would guide us and also bare witness of Him.
Concerning darkness and light.
Isaiah 5:20 says
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil; who substituted darkness for light and light for darkness.
If you are stuck in darkness, this is for you
Arise, shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness will cover the peoples. But the Lord will rise upon you, and the glory will appear upon you. Isaiah 60:1-2
Come and let us walk in the light of the Lord.
If you happen to be stuck in darkness and would like to come out, this is a divine appointment! Please pray this tiny prayer and your journey will begin.
Heavenly Father take me now. Pull me out of darkness and place me in the Kingdom of Your beloved Son. Jesus, I turn away from evil and turn to You. Jesus, please forgive me for all my sins. I receive Your forgiveness that was paid for me on the cross so long ago. Wash me clean with Your precious blood. I put my trust in you, thank You for dying for me so I might live for You. Jesus, come into my heart and change me. Make me an instrument of honor and use me. Holy Spirit, fill me with Your love and joy and guide me, for today I am a new creation. In Jesus name I pray, amen.
Jesus said in Luke 10:15 “ I tell you there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents”.
So God is throwing a party for you!
Thanks for reading the Parable of the Flutemaker. If you opened your heart to the Lord or have a question feel free to contact me.
Feel free to print this article and let it guide you for a season.
Find a loving church that believes the Bible and please send me an email. Info@eriktheflutemaker.com
God bless you!
Erik the flutemaker
October 17th 2005