I can remember doing the number sequence connect the dot drawings when I was a kid. You know, the ones that complete the outline of an image. Often times the shape of the object would be clear from the outset, but on other occasions, not so much. If there were just dots without some order of operation to follow, the task could be quite confusing and difficult. This lack of direction and vision often leads to frustration.
One of my favorite scenes from The Karate Kid (1984) (and yes, there are many other scenes) illustrates this point well. In the clip below, Daniel (Danielson, if you will) has been putting in long hours working for Mr. Miyagi in hope of receiving martial arts lessons in return. After painting the fence and his house, sanding the deck, and waxing Miyagi’s car, Daniel is ready to quit. He doesn’t see the point of his efforts and is about to throw in the towel, when Mr. Miyagi shows us what it means to be a great sensei.
“Not everything is as seem…” While Miyagi was having his young student perform various chores to pay for training, there was a greater reason behind it all. He was developing character and responsibility in Daniel. In addition, each task was actually an opportunity to introduce a principle skill and technique that would be useful down the road. Because Miyagi took the time to connect the dots, Danielson found motivation and purpose to continue.
Seems we all need that from time to time – someone to remind us again of why we do what we do, especially as it pertains to our faith. Unless we are constantly brought back to the hope we have found in Christ alone, we are prone to pursue lists of obedience and righteous acts with a heart that is disconnected. God’s love is our compelling motivation; bringing glory to His name is our purpose.
As parents and leaders, we must look for our opportunities to explain the “why” to our children. There are many examples in the Old Testament but here are a couple of my favorites. Deuteronomy 6:20-25 encourages us to have an answer ready to share…
20 “When your son asks you in the future, ‘What is the meaning of the decrees, statutes, and ordinances, which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 tell him, ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand. 22 Before our eyes the Lord inflicted great and devastating signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his household, 23 but He brought us from there in order to lead us in and give us the land that He swore to our fathers. 24 The Lord commanded us to follow all these statutes and to fear the Lord our God for our prosperity always and for our preservation, as it is today. 25 Righteousness will be ours if we are careful to follow every one of these commands before the Lord our God, as He has commanded us.’
Moses makes it clear. When your children ask about all these commandments, let them know it is about something more. The law was given to be an external showing of an inward attitude of thankfulness and reliance. Or how about what we see in Joshua 4:6-8… The Israelites are about to cross over into Canaan. The promise made to Abraham is about to come to fruition, and Joshua reminds the Hebrew people to be ready when given the chance to explain why. “When your children ask in time, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ You better be ready to tell them about God’s grace and faithfulness!”
See, our tithes, church attendance, and “good” deeds are more than just for kicks. It is my prayer that our lives will make that abundantly clear. What a blessed gift it is to be able to help connect the dots and share our testimonies of God’s goodness. May we always remember and readily communicate why we do what we do, and might our pursuit of righteousness always be driven and motivated by Your grace and compassion.