Ever since I was a kid, I have enjoyed action movies. One of the big ones that came out when I was a young was the famous Karate Kid. In this movie (as I’m sure you know), a young teenage boy meets up with an old man who would teach him karate and, most importantly, how do be disciplined enough to learn how to use it wisely. The fun part of the movie was watching how Mr. Miyagi (his sensei) had Daniel do all sorts of chores rather than teaching him the more traditional aspects of Karate. This confused the boy and often made him frustrated at what was supposed to be a training routine and instead looked like an old man taking advantage of the young teenager.
As the movie unfolds, Daniel finds out that each of the chores that Mr. Miyagi had him do actually led to him being able to do his karate moves (as in the famous “wax off, wax on” moment). It came in super conveniently handy when one of those moves allowed Daniel to defeat the final opponent in the karate tournament at the end of the movie. What he did not understand in the beginning led to him being able to accomplish what seemed impossible. He just had to trust the process.
This is something that I have seen unfold in my life numerous times. In the times where I am lost and do not understand what God has going on in His plan I have so much trouble trusting in the process. For example, when I was going through the process of becoming an Army chaplain, I had many things stacked against me. My MDiv degree was not the preferred one, it was from a school that was not preferred, all of my ministry experience was before I graduated from seminary, and my endorser was not from a sought after group. I was often told not to get my hopes up by my supervisors. But as a wise Chaplain told me, “If God leads you to it, He will lead you through it.”
This idea of trusting in the process is not a new idea. Ever since God created humanity, people have been messing things up by failing to trust in His plan. Adam and Eve listened to the serpent who said that God didn’t have their best interests in mind. Aaron didn’t make it long when Moses was on the mountain with God before he led to people to worship the golden calf. King Saul refused to follow God’s directions in battle and lost his place as king because of it. On and on the list goes. We as a people have trouble believing God has our best interests in mind. This is my definition of what sin is: believing our way is better than God’s way.
Perhaps the most well-known example of this is seen in the life of Abraham. While he is typically known for being the “father of many nations” his lack of faith in God led to so much heartache and pain that it still echoes in the divisions between Islam and Christianity today. God promised Abraham that he would have descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and that through his decedents that the entire world would be blessed (cf. Genesis 15). We see this culminated in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Yet, the happy ending we tend to focus on missed one big mistake: Abraham and his wife, Sarah, decided they knew better than God and chose to have a child through another medium. Rather than trust God to give them a child through the methods He promised (Sarah herself would have the child), they went through their own methods (Sarah gave Abraham her servant and he got her pregnant). The son of Abraham and Sarah’s servant Hagar was named Ishmael and the strife that came about in Abraham’s family because of this ill-conceived union led Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. The family was divided because Abraham and Sarah thought they knew better than God did.
God, however, in His infinite mercy and integrity kept His promises to both Abraham and to Hagar (cf. Genesis 16). Ishmael’s decedents still populate the Middle East and some adherents to Islam trace the lineage of the prophet Mohammed directly from Ishmael (cf. Religions Today: An Introduction by Mary Pat Fisher, pg. 223). This strife can still be seen playing itself out on the battlefield by radical religious groups who believe their acts of violence are pleasing Allah across the world (cf. Ibid, 224). By failing to trust in God’s plan and choosing to use their own methods thousands of years of conflict have taken place. This is why God instituted the process of circumcision: it reminds men that Abraham’s decision to use his own methods to accomplish God’s will results in pain and bloodshed (cf. Genesis 17).
Despite the fact that the decision of Abraham and Sarah are affecting the lives of millions across the planet thousands of years later, Abraham was still used by God to bless the world. Abraham was given a son by Sarah who would have a family line that would lead to Jesus. In Jesus the Christ, we see the opposite of how Adam and so many others have acted when they believed their way was better than God’s way. Even in Abraham’s disobedience God still honored His word and kept His promises. Abraham learned to trust the process and was eventually counted in the Israelite Faith Hall of Fame (my name for it) that is found in Hebrews 11 (aka the Faith Chapter).
I took a big break writing this entry; I have taken 3 months to finish it because I just couldn’t take my own medicine. As my wife battled breast cancer and underwent surgeries and subsequent treatments, I just couldn’t write about trusting the process when I was struggling to do that myself. On the other side of this battle, and in many ways still going through it, I can say that God is faithful. He has kept His promises and He has been a present help in our time of trouble (cf. Psalm 46).
As I wrap this up, let me assure you in the greatest way I possibly can to trust the process. God has his plans set and knows what all will happen. The things in our lives can be used for good if we allow Him to. I don’t know what all God is doing in our lives from this struggle but I have seen such love from the Church and our families. I have met people who I never knew went through this share their stories with us. Most importantly, God has drawn us so near to Him that I know He gave us peace to pass through the storm.
I have often been reminded during this process of how David reacted when King Saul questioned him about his confidence in how he could defeat the giant named Goliath. Goliath was a man of war who had fought many battles whereas David had never been a soldier. Goliath had been trained for war and Daniel was only a shepherd. Goliath was a man of years and wisdom and Daniel was only a teenager. Yet, David could have faith in God to deliver him and give him victory. Consider the words of David to King Saul:
 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock,  I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death.  I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God!  The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” (1 Samuel 17:34-37 NLT)
David had faith in God because God had been faithful in the past. David could trust his future because God had proven trustworthy in David’s trials before. My encouragement to you is to trust in the process. God may not defeat your giants nor calm your storms but He will be with you to guide you, direct you, comfort you, and lead you into a place of total trust in Him. We just have to trust in the process.