What Jesus and Mr. Miyagi Have in Common

February 1, 2019

The kids were down for the night.

It was early, and it wasn’t a struggle to get any of them to sleep.

This rare gift of spare time and energy set my mind racing about which of the countless tasks to attend to.

I want to write. 
This desire has been burning in me for days. I wake up thinking about writing and go to sleep still wishing I could scratch down the thoughts that only find their way out through long wandering roads of time.

I walk downstairs knowing the dishes need to be done. The table needs to be cleared and wiped off if tomorrow’s school day is to begin smoothly. The peace lily bowing low in the corner is begging to finally be watered.

I stop in front of the table piled high with the results of imagination and meals. I wonder how I am going to find the emotional strength to find the surface of this thing. Again.

What I really want to do is run out the door and hole up in a beautiful, quiet space somewhere and just write my heart out for about two months. I’ve got the kind of passion that doesn’t want to be bothered by even stopping to eat.

But even if I could convince myself the husband, seven-year-old, and two-year-old would be fine… I can’t get around the nursing baby who needs me here. A lot. My “work” hours are pretty much from 7 a.m. until 9:30 p.m. I think they’d notice.

Then the Spirit spoke into my spirit. He said something I never expected Him to say. And I couldn’t see Him, but I know He was smiling.

“Wax on, wax off.”

A scene from the movie The Karate Kid came to mind. And there was Mr. Miyagi, telling his fighter-in-training Daniel to wax his long row of cars. Wax on, wax off. 

Daniel had come to Miyagi to learn to fight. Miyagi agreed to train him but told Daniel he must not question his methods. When Daniel agreed to trust Miyagi with his training, Miyagi began immediately by instructing Daniel to “wax on, wax off”.

I could see Daniel’s confused, questioning, slightly disappointed face. Really? This is my training? Are you serious? I need to learn to fight. 

Laughter is good medicine so I took it and began cleaning things up, one by one.

I’m glad You’re here with me. I thought to Him. I haven’t thought of that movie in a long time. 

I could still feel Him smiling.

His smile spread to me and I shook my head, now wiping big, arching circles on the table. Clockwise with one hand, then counterclockwise with the other. Wax on, wax off.

So that’s it, then? I asked Him. You are preparing me for the fight? 

I think He was nodding: In ways you are not always going to understand.

He began unfolding thoughts for me about the repetitive movements of my life that seem mundane, painfully pointless, and utterly unrelated to the passionate work I feel He has created me for.

He reminded me how Miyagi showed the doubting Daniel that all along his training was developing strength in muscles he would use in the ultimate fight. He reminded me how Daniel went along with his Master’s training through waxing the cars and painting the fence… but how his trust ran out after Miyagi’s direction to “paint the house”.

Daniel didn’t understand the important connection between the seemingly random, painful tasks he was being given and the fight he was being prepared for. Daniel didn’t realize the strength and muscle-memory-discipline he was developing all along.

The Spirit counseled me that I need to strengthen specific spiritual muscles to be able to fight the good fight. I need to trust Him with my training.

I need to develop the muscles to listen to Him, obey Him, and repeat that process — regardless of what the specific “training” entailed.

I need to obey, even when I don’t understand.

I wanted to cry.

Not because of sadness – but because His counsel, His perspective, His presence in that quiet kitchen moment brought me such joy I could barely contain it.

Because… His presence is the reward. 

His counsel is what I long for.

Walking with Him is the goal.

I want to win the ultimate fight – everything God has created me to do in this life – and see His face of joy beaming “well done!”

To fight the good fight – and win – I must listen, obey, repeat.

Wax on, wax off. 

The arching circles connect all the way around. The surface is clean. The night a success. My spiritual muscles are stronger. My joy is full.

Keep training me, Lord. I will trust in You. 


*Repost from the archives.

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