The sign reads, “Paint House. Not like fence. No up, down. Paint house side to side. (1/2 right hand, 1/2 left hand.)” Remember the movie? Of course you do. All of us “children of the ‘80’s” remember “The Karate Kid.” I caught part of this movie the other night and realized something I’d never thought about before. Tucked away in the middle of this motion picture is a great Biblical truth.
Now, for those of you who may have forgotten, after Mr. Miyagi rescues Daniel from the Cobra’s, he promises to teach him karate if Daniel promises to do exactly as he instructs with no questions. Well, Daniel spends the next several days waxing cars, painting fences, and sanding floors. After spending all day painting the guy’s house, while his instructor is off fishing, Daniel is pretty ticked. “Did you ever think I might have wanted to go fishing, too?” Daniel asks. “You not here when I leave,” Mr. Miyagi says. Daniel says, “I thought I was gonna learn karate.” “You learn plenty,” says Mr. Miyagi.” Daniel has had enough waxing, painting and sanding and announces, “I’m going home!”
This is the turning point of the movie; where the rubber meets the road. Mr. Miyagi says, “Daniel-son show me wax on, wax off.” Over the next couple of minutes those boring or repetitive “household chore”- type arm motions are transformed into karate blocks by the Master. At the end of this brief training session, Mr. Miyagi throws a flurry of punches and kicks, and Daniel blocks every one! He walks away amazed at his own accomplishments.
In the book of James, Chapter 1, verses 2 through 6, it is written: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.”
So many times we ask God, “Why”? Why am I going through all this? Well, here’s our answer. We’re in training! God is preparing us for the trials that are going to come later. God may allow us to go through a thunderstorm at age twenty-eight to prepared us for the hurricane that will hit at age fifty-three. As the verses say, these trials are developing our perseverance (or patience) so that we can be mature and complete. The verses also say that God is not stingy with his wisdom and will give it generously to those who ask believing. In other words, He’ll help us to understand the answers to those “why” questions.
There’s another reason we get to go through troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:4 says, “He comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” It’s all about perspective. It’s all about realizing that life is about way more than what you’re going through right then and there. Even those repetitive “household chore”-type things, like Bible study, prayer time, Sunday school, and tithing are only a small part of a bigger picture.
So thank you, Daniel LaRusso. Thank you, Mr. Miyagi. Thank you for teaching us that “wax on, wax off” is less about buffing cars to a shine and more about polishing us into the gems God wants us to be.