My daughter, Madi, earned her blue belt in Tae Kwon Do last week. She’d been taking lessons at the park district for the past three years with a wonderful instructor, but I broke down and signed her up at the actual Tae Kwon Do school, since it appears she has every intention of pursuing it. Her instructor is Master Kim. A few words on Master Kim: he is slight in stature, I cannot tell how old he is, but he has grey hair. Among his accomplishments, Master Kim is a 9th degree black belt, was an instructor for the CIA and Green Berets, and is the American Tae Kwon Do Federation President. In short, I believe that Master Kim could kick my butt in less than a second – he strikes an intimidating pose.
Master Kim expects respect in his class; he expects the students to listen and follow directions; he expects minimal distractions; he expects the more advanced students to help others. I don’t know Master Kim well, but simply judging from his appearance, I stressed to Madi that she must listen and not horse around. I have greatly enjoyed watching Madi in this class. I have especially enjoyed watching Master Kim. While I am not attempting to compare the Grace of God to anything worldly, I could not help but notice some parallels between Master Kim, principles of Tae Kwon Do and God’s expectations for us as Christians.
In Madi’s first class with Master Kim, a 6-year old orange belt was rather squirrelly. After repeatedly asking him to be quiet and pay attention, Master Kim tied his own belt to the child’s orange belt; with a slight smile on his face; with a twinkle in his eyes. He was not mean; he never raised his voice; he spoke very kindly to this boy as he told him he would now stay with him. How many times do we go astray and God pulls us closer? Like Master Kim, but much more so, God will discipline us with love in His attempt to draw us closer to Him; to get our attention; to cause us to listen. Proverbs 3: 11-12 states, “My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in”. What is our attitude when we don’t get what we want? Are we thankful that we are corrected by a loving God? Or are we resentful? I think that often times, the trials that we face in this life are God’s way of showing us what is important; of drawing us near to Him so that we rely on His infallible strength rather than our own. My family has faced several trials in the past couple of years – my mom’s illness, Sara’s behavior and school change, Jeff’s unemployment, financial difficulties. But rather that being completely stressed out (although I do have my moments), I have been in relative peace, knowing that I am not in charge; knowing that God is insisting on my reliance on Him.
There are many principles of Tae Kwon Do, but a few that stood out to me as I sat in the waiting room include gaining good judgment, developing a sound mind, be honest and always stand by the weak. 2 Timothy 1: 7 states, “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love, and of self-discipline”. Jesus entire ministry while on earth surrounded the defense of the weak and to bring unbelievers to Himself. In Luke 5:31-32, Jesus stated, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance”. Jesus raised the widow’s son from death, knowing that she would suffer without him; Jesus stood by the woman accused of adultery; Paul wrote to Timothy advising him to care for widows, treat older men as fathers and older women as mothers. God wants us to stand by the weak. Reading these principles automatically turned my mind to scripture and God’s expectations for us as Christians.
I know that Tae Kwon Do was not founded in Christianity. That said, I am still glad that Madi has interest in a sport/philosophy that does reinforce many of the Christ-centered values that I try to instill in her as her mom. I am glad that she has Master Kim as an instructor, who will teach her skills through patience, kindness and gentle correction.