There is a scene in the 1984 blockbuster movie, “The Karate Kid”, that contains an important faith lesson.
The movie depicts the struggles of a teenage boy. Daniel LaRusso’s mother moved him from New Jersey to Southern California. Daniel found it impossible to find acceptance from his new classmates. He endured several beatings from a gang of bullies who study martial arts. Finally, though, he met Mr. Miyagi.
In the course of time, Daniel discovered that Japan-born Mr. Miyagi was well-versed in Karate. At Daniel’s request, Mr. Miyagi agreed to teach the boy Karate. However, instead of Karate lessons, Mr. Miyagi only seemed interested in getting Daniel to wax his fleet of cars, paint his fence, and sand his deck. What annoyed Daniel most is the particular way Mr. Miyagi demanded that he apply and wipe off the wax.
“Wax on, wax off,” was the recurring command, as Miyagi moved Daniel’s hands in a specific pattern. He did the same with Daniel’s hands as he sands, varnishes, and paints. As the senseless tasks became more and more tedious, Daniel grumbled: “What has this got to do with Karate? I came here to learn how to defend myself. ‘Wax on—wax off!’ This is stupid. What a waste of time!”
Finally, Daniel’s frustration bubbled over. He erupted in an angry outburst at Mr. Miyagi. Just then Mr. Miyagi tells him to defend himself. He throws a series of Karate punches at Daniel. But Daniel, whose hands are now conditioned to the hand motions from waxing, painting, and sanding easily blocks every punch. “First lesson complete. Come back tomorrow” Mr. Miyagi congratulates him.
Daniel stood in stunned silence. What he thought was a stupid task, a waste of his time, suddenly took on a profound meaning. He was being taught Karate all along, and he didn’t even know it!
If you turn to the Scriptures, you see the same pattern. Men and women of God longed to use their talents for something really important. But they were forced to seemingly waste their time with senseless jobs.
Joseph spent wasted years as a prison administrator. Moses and David both spent wasted years as shepherds. Peter spent wasted years as a fisherman. Paul spent wasted years in obscurity as student. Yet, every one of them learned priceless lessons for the future through those “stupid jobs.”
Where has God placed you? It’s hard at the present to understand the significance of your work. But trust in God and be faithful in your work. One day, He will reveal the hidden fruitfulness of this phase of your life.
A familiar passage tells us:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. (Proverbs 3:5–6 NKJV)
Dear Father in heaven, I trust that You see my future. I believe You have the wisdom to order the events of my life. Help me to trust You even when the tasks before me make no sense. I know You will work everything for my good and for Your glory. Amen.