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  • bobblayter

Sometimes You See God After The Fact

In the original Karate Kid movie, the main character, Daniel LaRusso, is a teenager picked on by bullies at his school who know karate. Eventually Daniel meets Mr. Miyagi, who works as a maintenance man at his apartment complex and is a karate expert.

Mr. Miyagi commits to teaching Daniel karate, but Daniel has to agree to do whatever Miyagi tells him. When Daniel says yes, the first assignment Miyagi gives him is to wax several cars that he owns. Miyagi instructs Daniel in the manner in which he wants him to wax. This approach is to first do circular motions with the wax on one cloth, and then to do a similar motion to take the wax off. The phrase “wax on, wax off” becomes a key that Daniel will discover shortly.

When Daniel completes the assignment, Mr. Miyagi then has him paint his fence. Miyagi has Daniel stand a certain way and instructs him in the manner he is to paint the fence. In both activities Daniel has to breathe a certain way.

When Daniel completes the assignment he gets angry at Miyagi, that he is being used as a slave and is not learning any karate. Then comes the pivotal part of the movie! Daniel is going to leave, but Mr. Miyagi calls him back and says, “wax on, wax off”. Miyagi then does some karate moves but Daniel successfully blocks his punches by the wax on, wax off movements.

Miyagi then says, “paint the fence”. Again Daniel is successful in stopping the attacks from his mentor. At this point in the theatre, the audience starts to cheer wildly, because we all realize that Mr. Miyagi had been teaching Daniel karate all along. The lesson learned is trust the one who is mentoring and leading you.

God is many times like that. We ask him for something, like becoming more patient, and then we are put through trials that make us question whether God is even there. After the fact we then see that the trials are teaching us to become more patient. Therefore, the Lord is answering our prayers, but not as expected.

In Genesis the story of Joseph illustrates this as well as any Biblical example. Joseph is seventeen years old when God gives him two dreams that clearly means his brothers will bow down to him in reverence. Since Joseph is the favorite child of his father and one of the youngest children, his brothers seethe with jealousy.

They eventually find a way to sell Joseph into slavery. Our dreamer ends up in Egypt where through a series of events Joseph, being falsely accused, ends up in prison for roughly thirteen years, with no hope of getting out.

An amazing sequence happens where the Pharaoh has dreams no one can interpret but is told that Joseph has this gift. When Joseph is brought before Pharaoh and successfully interprets the dreams, he becomes essentially Vice Pharaoh.

The dreams relate to seven years of prosperity, followed by seven years of famine. Joseph comes up with a forced savings plan during the seven years of plenty, so when the famine hits, Egypt has enough food.

Nine years pass, the famine is severe, his brothers come down to Egypt to buy food and come before Joseph and bow down, knowing him to be in charge of the food distribution. It is now twenty two years since Joseph had those dreams.

Another seventeen years pass where Joseph says to his brothers in Genesis 50:20, “you intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Going through slavery, prison, and living in a foreign country is what Joseph goes through to fulfill what God wanted to do.

Years ago I prayed for God that whatever it takes, to make me more like Jesus. I now affectionately call it my stupid prayer, because that prayer caused me to resign from my staff position at a church that I loved. He was answering that prayer, but not like anything I expected.

The saddest part of what happened is that I was afraid to trust the Lord and so ended up doing ministries that God didn’t want me involved in. Eventually I got back on track, but wasted several years of His best because I wasn’t willing to submit to his process. Interestingly years later I saw what His plan would have been, but my fear kept me from following His plan.

The lesson here is when you ask God to either do something for you or change your life to be more like him, He will do just that. However, the manner in which he will do it, many times does not look like what we expected. If we stick to the plan, eventually we will see His hand in retrospect.

So when we trust the Lord, it has to be a full surrender. So even if the path we take doesn’t look like what we expected, ending up where we should can help us see that he was there all the time.

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