Monday, February 7, 2011

Spiritual Growth, Karate Kid Style

I confess:  as a kid, I was a huge Karate Kid fan.  It's true.  I can still hear Bananarama now...

The Karate Kid (Special Edition)

One thing that always bugged me about the movie was how long it seemed to take Mr. Miagi to teach Daniel just what the heck he was supposed to be doing.  It just didn't seem to make any sense.  I was so frustrated every time I had to watch the whole confusing "wax on, wax off," "paint the fence," "sand the floor" sequence.  I just wanted to get to the part where Daniel was kicking some Cobra butt!

For the past year, I've been noticing that God's been walking me through some rather tedious growing experiences.  I journal about my prayers and what I see the Lord doing in my life - the places I'm struggling to understand Him, the things I find myself fighting about with Him, the stubbornness I notice cropping up in myself.  And the faithfulness He shows in response.

Many times this past year, God has asked me to wait.  For all sorts of things.  For all kinds of reasons I don't really know.
Wax on...

Somtimes, God has allowed me to see an open door and has led me to walk toward it.  He has allowed me to invest my heart in dreams He's planted in my soul.  And some of those dreams have been met with what appears, from my limited perspective, to be a resounding slamming of doors.  
Wax off....

God has asked me to trust Him, even when it means being willing to close my eyes and jump out over the edge of my tiny little comfort zone.  Sometimes I have landed in the middle of a place more incredible than I could have imagined (like seeing the fulfillment of my dream of being a "housewife").  And other times, He's let me risk disappointment and put my heart on the line for something that has not turned out as planned, asking me to remember that He is the Lord of my life, and He causes all things to work together for my good. 

He's also asked me to let go of my grip on my dreams and be willing to open my hands to Him.  He's taught me that what I, in my human perspective, may have considered the end of a dream may very well be the redefining of a dream by the Lord, so it reflects HIS heart more than mine.  So I have to trust Him more.  So He will be more glorified in my life.   Because He is interested in accomplishing more things at once than I can really even imagine.  

I'm stepping back, at the beginning of a new year, and I'm looking at how the Lord has been refining my faith and my relationship with him.  I'm seeing some of the pieces fit together.  There is more of a connection.  I know He is preparing me still for work that is yet to be done, yet to be dreamed or understood.   He is often hard to understand.  Sometimes the training ground of faith is a series of seemingly aggravating growing experiences.  But God allows us to walk through these things, because He can see the culmination of all He's doing in our lives, and it is for our good and His glory. 

"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."  James 1:2-4

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