One of my favorite moves growing up was Karate Kid. Of course, this was everyone’s favorite movie. It is the classic underdog story that we love. The bullied kid learns karate and wins the tournament defeating the bullies at the same time. It has all the right elements to make it a timeless story: the relatable new kid who feels out of place, the bullies that so many of us faced in some fashion, the wise mentor we all long for, a little love interest thrown in for good effect, and of course a bad person who needs to be conquered. What isn’t to love about this movie?
One of the most iconic parts of the movie is how Mr. Miyagi trained his young student, Daniel. He had him washing cars, waxing cars, painting fences, and sanding a deck. All of these in a certain way. The climactic part of the movie comes when Daniel has had enough and demands an explanation for why he has to do all this work. It is in this great reveal where Mr. Miyagi shows how each of these activities prepared Daniel for a karate move. We see that all of this work had a purpose. Mr. Miyagi was training Daniel even when Daniel didn’t understand what was happening.
This is a great moment because it is different than what we are used to when someone enters training. Usually, when a coach or trainer has someone working on a skill, they will explain the purpose of a drill or exercise. It is knowing the purpose that lies behind the often hard and difficult exercise that helps the person being trained to endure and carry on. But Mr. Miyagi turned that upside down.
In many ways, we identify with what Mr. Miyagi did. A comparison can be made to the life of the Christian. We have been given tasks, we face trials, we go through life and are given ways which we are called to respond, but at the same time, God never explains what he is doing to us. Just think through some of the stories of the bible and you will see people enduring and carrying on trusting God, without God every explaining how he is working in that situation. They trust God and long for that reveal; the moment when they will see how he was working. They long to look back and see how God was with them and taught them through their life so that they gained the maturity they needed. You can think about Joseph. God didn’t explain how he was going to work through the circumstances he was in. But Joseph trusted God and was able to tell his brothers that what they meant for evil, God meant for good. Or think about Job. Job is never told why God allowed bad things to happen. But the point was that Job came to trust in the God who is God and to realize that he is not God.
If we believe Romans 8:28-29 then we trust that God is in many ways pulling a Miyagi. He is working all things for our good while we are being conformed to the image of his Son. Hear that, all things. The hard things, the confusing things, the good things, the ugly things, the messy things, the great things, all things are being used by God for us to become more and more like Christ.
And we eagerly await the reveal. We want to be able to look back and say, "Wow! Look at how God has been working in my life. Isn’t it amazing how he has worked out all of these things so that I am where I am today?" We understand that in moments every now and again, but we await the final big reveal when we will see clearly face-to-face how God has worked out all things for our good.