Aug 25, 2011

Quick Thought for the Day

When I first started martial arts, I couldn’t wait to get past the basics and get to the “good stuff.” I used to enjoy seeing people’s belt displays and couldn’t wait to get my black belt and have the “complete” belt system. I couldn’t wait to learn what I needed to finish. Since then, I’ve learned there really isn’t anything beyond the basics, you just keep coming back to the same things, the same basics, making them better, and building on them. You put solid basics together and you have growth, but it isn’t anything new, it’s just the basics. At some point along the way I began noticing that many of the people who have a personal belt display don’t have their black belt on it. The reason I found out is that black belt is really just the beginning. Black belt really means that you have learned the basics sufficiently to truly begin the journey of learning the martial arts. It is not the end, the capstone, but rather, the beginning of understanding martial arts. You have never “mastered” or “completed” your training if you are a true martial artist. Thus, you can’t have completed black belt and thus, it is not displayed. The belts on the display represent what it took to learn the basics, to get to the point where you can truly begin learning. Thus, the absence of the black belt is a testimony and reminder that you are still on the journey and that you will never “complete” your training.

So it is in the Spiritual life. So often Christians (especially younger Christians) seek after the fantastic, the amazing, the exciting things. They want to know all the “secret” things, the things that no one else knows. They want to know what the Bible “really” says. And, so often, they chase after these things for the things themselves, believing that these are the mark of maturity and having “arrived.” For example, they go to sections that speak of the end times / apocalypse, or read something like the Da Vinci Code that claims to give “hidden meaning” and so on. Or they think, I need to read the whole Bible and then I’ll have mastered it or know all I need to or I need to read or pray like so and so and then I’ll have arrived. Then, they start walking in the Christian life pursuing those things (totally missing the mark, btw) and they get frustrated because they haven’t “arrived” yet. What they (we) often miss, is that just like in the example of the belt system above, we are on a journey where we are seeking to become more like Christ. The things that we do are the basics, such as praying, reading, trusting the Lord, delighting in Him above all else and putting Him first, etc. These are the basic things that we need to learn. So often we speak, talk, or live as if we need to get past these things to be “mature.” Yet, as in the example above, these are the things that we are constantly having to “re-learn” and that we keep coming back to time and time again. The thing is, that truly is the journey and those are the basics, that’s where growth is. It’s not in anything secret or fancy, just in the basics and building from there. As long as we’re on this earth, we will never “arrive” in that sense. The very notion of “arriving” is as nonsensical as thinking that earning a black belt means you have “finished” in the martial arts.

No comments: