2 Jul 2000

The Karate Kid

Submitted by theshovel
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[shovel]This has got to be one of my all-time favorite movies. It is filled with pictures of the grace of God … regardless of the writers’ intentions. I recently purchased this video where I found it in the $5 bin so I have watched it a couple times in the past month.[/shovel] Daniel (the Karate Kid) is supposed to be getting trained by Mr. Miyagi so that he can compete in a local tournament. The fact that he has less than two months to prepare creates a set up for tension. Miyagi makes Daniel agree to his terms of training: I say, you do, no questions. Sounds like a good platform in which to discuss the virtues of living by law, but hang on to your hat, okay? His training begins with a sponge as he is told to wash and wax Miyagi’s numerous automobiles. As he begins to object, Miyagi holds it back and reminds him of the deal. “Wax on” with left hand in a circular motion, “wax off” with the right in a mirror-image motion. Upon completion, he is instructed to, “Come back tomorrow to continue training.” Daniel gives him a funny look and goes home. The instruction continues. “Sand the floor”, “Paint the fence”, “Side to side” (paint house) … long grueling days performing duties in specific motions, first with one hand and then the other. As Daniel is almost finished painting the house Miyagi returns, having been fishing all day … and he jokes, “Daniel-san, you missed a spot!” Daniel has had all he can take and can hold it back no longer. His complaint is simple: he is not getting trained and he is nothing more than Miyagi’s slave. He screams out that he is leaving and as he begins to walk away the teacher calls him back. Miyagi says, “Show me ‘Sand the floor’!” When Daniel complains that his shoulder hurts too much to move it anymore Miyagi does some oriental mojo on his shoulder … and to Daniel’s surprise the pain goes away. Miyagi repeats, “Show me, ‘Sand the floor’!” As the kid begins to get down on his knees the teacher pulls him back up and repeats his request. Daniel makes some weak attempt to create the motion so Miyagi takes his hands in his own and recreates the actual pattern adding a stop to the circular motion against his palm. He continues, “Show me, ‘Wax on, wax off’!” Daniel, once again, begins to stoop down, but is caught back up by the master to remain standing. He again produces a pathetic re-creation of the opposite circular motion, so again Miyagi grabs his hands and forces them into the familiar pattern he had experienced in washing and waxing those cars. The teacher moves quicker as Daniel begins to awaken as from a sleep. “Paint the fence” - the up and down movements - where Miyagi pivots Daniel’s wrists to strike against his palms on the up and down strokes. With each movement Daniel’s eyes are getting more and more intense as the reality of his training is unfolding before him. After they do “Side to side” Miyagi looks deep into Daniel’s eyes with a low growl and comes at him in a mock attack, but with every lunge that Miyagi makes Daniel is able to hold him off as those eight very familiar patterns of motion seem to spring forth all by themselves! As he ends the lesson, Miyagi looks into Daniel’s eyes and says, “Come back tomorrow”. At that moment, nothing short of tragedy would have kept him from coming back. Daniel had been waiting for his training to begin, but it had been going on the whole time. He was being trained and he had no idea that the session had begun. Life WAS the training. The master gave him that glimpse just when he needed it. That’s you and me, isn’t it? We are waiting for IT to happen. We are waiting for some kind of a call. We are waiting for our purpose to unfold. We are wondering when God is going to begin doing something in our lives. We are looking for that thing to happen that will make our lives count for something important. We are straining to hear His voice. We are attempting to discover that elusive will He has for our lives. And we often find ourselves wondering why God has left us hanging out to dry. But IT has been happening the whole time! We’ve been given glimpses. But then we turn around and put those insights on a pedestal and worship them instead of simply letting the glimpse witness the truth to us that He has been working from all eternity to all eternity. The glimpses of reality are screaming out to us that HE has not only NOT left us hanging, but that He is actively producing in us the image of His Son. It is usually in the very thing that I am complaining to God where He is producing His fruit in me. It just doesn’t look like it. And then when I conclude that it is not happening I make the attempt to make it happen. And when I try to make it happen I am calling upon the resources I am familiar with as I grew up in this world. And when I tap into the old mindset I will see all kinds of trash happening in my life. And when I see the trash going on in me I conclude that I am what I see. And when I conclude that my appearance is my reality then I have ruled out that Christ is my reality … even though I may say I believe it. And when I have ruled Christ out of the picture I am left with the decision of choosing the law-system that makes the most sense to me at the time. That’s a pretty complicated process, but we can zip through the whole thing in a matter of seconds! So, what’s He doing in your life right now? He’s producing Christ in you and revealing him to the world around you - whether you realize it or not. If your answer to the question revolves around people, places, things, or formulas I would suggest that you are stuck somewhere in the middle of the above process. It is the knowledge that His Spirit unceasingly works in us that brings confidence in the midst of the confusion of this world. It is this confidence that brings sanity so that we might live as really being free. It is by living as those who have been set free that we find that we are not driven by fear. As we discover that fear is an illegitimate master we realize that we are not afraid to do and say the things that used to rattle our world. And instead, we discover that we have been set free to love.. I don’t mean that we finally come to the place where we can START loving, but that it has been BEING produced in us the whole time we have been in Him. This confidence does not come because we are able to figure it out. It is beyond everything we have ever learned in this world. And it causes US to grow in this love so that it FLOURISHES in us. And in the same way it poured out of Jesus don’t be surprised when the religious mindset judges it to be evil. Instead, if you pay attention, you will hear your Father saying something to you like, “Show me, ‘Sand the floor’!” In other words, you are being given NUMEROUS occasions in which you are given that glimpse into the reality behind the contradictory appearances. Stop trying to figure it out … just let it blow you away!! Let it convince you that He has been doing IT in you all along for HIS own purposes to produce even MORE of the same!


theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website

Posted: July 3, 2000 by Bruce

Jimmy Boy...

Loved your Karate Kid gospel. Isn't it wonderful how we can see God and His truth in everything when we get our heart and His joined as one?

With your permission I'm going to forward this to every Christian I know.

Love you much!

Posted: July 3, 2000 by John

Your "Karate Kid" analogy is perhaps one of the best things I have seen you do here on your "Shoveletters." Thanks for sharing it.

Posted: July 3, 2000 by Paul

This was really encouraging to me.

So many of the actions (wax on, wax off) I've gone though in my efforts to reach people with the gospel have seemed to lead to nowhere. Your article brings that into perspective for me. Thanks for the hard work and careful thought.

Posted: July 3, 2000 by Becki

This was some of your best writing so far, Jim.

Wax on. Wax off.
Who hasn't seen the movie?

Great illustrations.
An astounding point.


Posted: July 3, 2000 by Nancy

very cool dig for the week there jim,,, and amazingly enough,,,i understood everything you said in it,, hows that for ,, "wax on wax off" ?


hope you have a good 4th,,im on my way out to the lake,,

monkyson,,uh,,wonder what the female version of "son" is in japanese,, ?

Posted: July 3, 2000 by Jude

Jim, this was wonderful my friend, aaaahhh the Lord is good, what a neat illustration from the Karate Kid.

I couldn't help but think of : "For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory forever. Amen."

For He is the "mode" and the "means" by which we live.

Thanks for sharing,

Dear Jim,

Thanks for this one. I really needed to be reminded. How appropriate for this day we rest and celebrate our freedoms!

I recently watched "The Last of the Mohicans". God spoke to me through the whole movie. My favorite is when the enemy is chasing them and they duck behind the waterfalls and the cool Indian guy is about to jump over the waterfalls departing his bride. He says, "no matter what happens, you stay alive". No matter what (you keep your faith in me) you stay alive! He told her they would be together again. It was awesome to see Christ in this movie.

Hope you don't mind but I forwarded it on to faith2faith. It will bless others too. Thanks again for sharing. Have a great day.

In Jesus,

Posted: July 3, 2000 by Angie

Hey Jim!
I just finished your letter on the Karate Kid.
It opened my eyes!!

Posted: July 3, 2000 by Tamy

Thanks, Jim...

I really needed this today:)
Just what I needed to hear.

Posted: July 3, 2000 by Phyllis

I just wanted to thank you for the timely message. I haven't had time to read your letter until today, and today was when I needed to hear this message. I really enjoy it when God does these timing things.
Your sis,

Posted: July 3, 2000 by Jack

that was simply "shovelicious"!

Posted: July 31, 2009 by Tim

Sorry to keep asking for this, Jim, but I wonder if you might share with us a specific example from your own life of where you have complained to God about something that you wanted that He was producing in your life but you instead went down the road that you described.
I know we're all different, but real life situations help me connect the dots a bit more.

Hello Tim :)

Well, here's something you might relate with: ministry. Back in my Bible College days I wanted to count for Christ. I wanted to be able to truly minister to others of the good news of Jesus Christ. I tried some different methods that were presented to me, and yet it just wasn't panning out. After all, since I was ALWAYS preaching the gospel it seemed that someone should have been accepting the message. And you can imagine that I took my complaints to God, although I would have told you at that time that I was merely praying about those situations. But I got quite desperate about the fact that God just didn't seem to be doing anything in my life. I simply saw no fruit in my life. It turned out that in and/or regarding those very struggles I became a magnet to others who saw God's working in my life. He made me to be a minister of his life through his own workings in me. Go figure, eh? :)


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