I’m sitting in the very back of the dojo where both my sons train twice a week. My oldest son has been with the same shihan for 10 years. My little guy first entered the dojo in utero when his brother tied on his white belt. I don’t want to think about the amount of tuition we have spent here over the years, but it has been worth every penny. Both sons started their martial arts training for different reasons, and both of them have grown in so many ways.
As I listen to my oldest son whack a punching bag and review his self-defense with a man he has grown to trust over a decade, I also hear how easily he receives his feedback. They are currently preparing for a tournament as well as a visit from Grandmaster. A black belt test is not too far in the future. It’s a culmination of years of hard work. My son moves when Shihan directs. He fine-tunes his Fleeing Snake when Shihan offers correction.
Honestly, I’m pondering how beautiful this is, and why, as a parent, I don’t always get the same response. (Insert smile here.) Their communication is seamless. With strength, stamina, stability, and self-discipline on the line, trust is of utmost importance. Shihan will not recommend him to go before Grandmaster for a black belt until he is completely confident in his ability. Student must surrender to Teacher in complete abandon that all of this effort will lead to achieving the end goal.
I’m thinking about my own walk with God in this moment. I’ve been trying to follow His lead for 37 years. Not all of that time has my faith been mature. Sometimes it still isn’t, but I’m an apprentice in training.
Our faith walk is so personal. We may each start out for different reasons.
Someone may have told us our Master was worth following,
that He was faithful,
that He would never mislead us,
that He would direct our paths and lead us to life with Him eternal.
Maybe we saw a loved one training with Him and observed firsthand the fruit of that labor, the influence, the reflection of the Master.
I would like to think as we stay by His side, sit at His feet, and listen to His Word, our trust becomes impenetrable. Wouldn’t it be amazing, as our faith in God grows, if we stopped flinching in irritation or defensiveness and welcomed His feedback like a parched throat receiving a glass of water? Wouldn’t it be noteworthy if a mark of time spent with our Master led to movement so natural that whenever He said:
“Love”—we gave away what He first gave us!
Imagine if we believed so deeply that He always meant good for us that obeying was like breathing and we didn’t question or doubt!
What if when #God offered correction and redirection, we just leaned into it, responding as a child grabbing a parent’s hand to take a walk?
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) April 2, 2017
Recalling the relationship between Shihan and student, let’s take a look at these few descriptions in light of our roles as children and students of the Christ.
1. With strength, stamina, stability, and self-discipline on the line, trust is of utmost importance.
Strength = personal character, integrity
Stamina = perseverance, steadfastness
Stability = faithfulness, staying the course
Self-discipline = self-control, obedience
Philippians 4:13, ESV
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
Romans 15:5-6, ESV
May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Galatians 5:22-23, ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
2. Shihan will not recommend him to go before Grandmaster for a black belt until he is completely confident in his ability.
Jesus is the author and perfecter of our faith. He helps us run and finish the race.
Hebrews 12:1-3, ESV
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
He refines us in the fires of this world, sanctifying us to go before the Father as the unblemished bride of Christ.
Malachi 3:2-3, ESV
But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.
3. Student must surrender to Teacher in complete abandon that all of this effort will lead to achieving the end goal.
Following Christ is not a part-time job. We can’t just join His path whenever we feel like it and jump off when it’s inconvenient. If my son is to someday achieve his black belt, he has no choice but to stay the course. He can’t decide his way is better in some of his techniques. He has to follow the teachings of his instructor. He has to decide to be all in.
What about us? Would we describe our relationship with God as one of complete abandon? Are we settling for a lower rank belt when He can take us as black belts who have fought the good fight of faith to the end?
#2Timothy4_7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have #KeptTheFaith.
— Bonnie Lyn Smith (@BonnieLynSmith) April 2, 2017
It’s not easy. It shouldn’t be, really. We didn’t deserve what Christ did for us on the cross, and we can never earn the gift He offers us for free. Even so, we are heirs in His suffering just as we inherit the place with God that He has so unconditionally bought for us in eternity.
Romans 8:16-17, ESV
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
*This blog was first a featured column at Your Tewksbury Today.
**It has also been shared at any link highlighted here: Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Make a Difference Mondays, Pick Your Pin Tuesday, Worshipful Wednesdays, Women With Intention Wednesdays, Grace & Truth, A Little R & R, RaRa Link-Up, Me, Coffee & Jesus, Dance With Jesus, Blessing Counters, Coffee & Conversation, Saturday Soiree, Tell His Story, Find Stability, So Much at Home, Faith-Filled Fridays, Reflect His Love and Glory Link-Up, Bonbon ‘n Coffee Linkup, and Christian Mommy Blogger.
Anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).