The Emperor and the Bride
Author Unknown

This is another version of a story which is believed to have originated from the Church in China, the other version is The Emperor and the Seed:  

An emperor in the Far East saw his son growing older and felt that the time had come to choose a bride for his son, as was their culture and custom. Instead of choosing one of the many noble women of good birth in his kingdom, he decided upon a different way of choosing a suitable bride who would be of good character and integrity in order to rule with his son. As part of his plan, he sent out a decree to all the young women of suitable age in the kingdom. His servants were instructed to say, “I have decided it is time to choose a bride for my son. To help me in this process one of my servants will give each one of you a seed today. One very special seed. I want you to plant the seed, water it and come to the palace one year from today with what you have grown from this one seed. I will then judge the plants that you bring, and the owner of the one I choose, will be the bride of my son!”

The people of the kingdom were astounded by this! What WAS the emperor thinking, was he not concerned about noble blood and heritage and their kingdom's customs and traditions? Surely there must be some reason for this...

One young girl named Ling lived in a poor part of town not far from the palace and she, like many others, received a seed. She went home and excitedly told her mother the story. Her mother helped her get a pot and soil, and she planted the seed and watered it carefully. Every day she would water it and watch to see if it had grown. After about three weeks, some of the other young women began to talk about their seeds and the plants that were beginning to grow.

Ling kept checking her seed, but nothing ever grew. Three weeks, four weeks, five weeks went by. Still nothing. By now, others were talking about their plants but Ling didn't have a plant, and she felt like a failure. She wondered if her soil needed some fertilizer but they did not have money for such things. Six months went by - still nothing in Ling's pot. She just knew she must have killed this seed.

Everyone else had trees and tall plants, but she had absolutely nothing to see. Ling didn't say anything to her friends, however. She just kept waiting for her seed to grow. A year finally went by and the time was swiftly approaching when all the young women of the kingdom were to present their plants to the emperor for his inspection. Ling told her mother that she wasn't going, it seemed such a wa
ste to take an empty pot. But her mother said she must be honest about what happened, Ling felt sick to her stomach, but she knew her mother was right. She took her empty pot to the palace.

When Ling arrived, she was amazed at the variety of plants grown by the other women. They were truly beautiful to look at and so pleasing to the eye with all of the many different types of plants in all shapes and sizes that were represented!  They were very enterprising projects which were certain to catch the Emperor's attention and sure to reveal their individual abilities as careful and wise gardeners. Justifiably, many were very proud of their personal achievements. Ling held her empty pot and kept her eyes on the ground in front of her, aware that many of the other young women were pointing, giggling and laughing at her. A few felt sorry for her and offering consolation said, “At least you tried.”

When the emperor arrived, he surveyed the room and greeted the young women. Ling tried to hide at the back.

“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.

"Now the emperor will see that I'm a failure! Maybe he will have me punished or even killed”, Ling thought.

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. She had absolutely nothing to show for her efforts. 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. My son will be best served by one with such integrity and purity in both heart and deed. Therefore, she is the one who will be the wife of my son!”

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For as the rain and snow come down from the heavens, and do not return there, but water the earth and make it bring forth and sprout, that it may give seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall My word be that goes forth out of My mouth; it shall NOT return to Me void without producing any effect, but it shall accomplish that which I please and purpose, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it." (Isaiah 55:8-11)




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