The Karate Kid
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.
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!