I am the good shepherd.
The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep...John 10:11
There once was a young man who felt a strong need to avenge the death of his father at the hands of a ruthless killer. His mother told him about a wise master who would teach him all the skills needed to complete such an action. The wise man dwelt in a land far away, but the boy was willing to walk the great distance to find him.
Days into his journey, he arrived at the master’s temple to seek training. When the boy explained why he wanted to learn fighting skills to seek revenge, the old man turned him away saying that he does not teach martial arts. So, the boy went home and told his mother. “My son, he’s just testing your goal. Go back to him and don’t come home until he teaches you,” she explained.
The boy took the long road back to the master and was told, “You can stay if you really want to, but if you stay you must work! You will clean, cook, and do all the labor of the temple.” The old man put him to work cleaning the temple and doing menial tasks, not the glorious physical skills that the young man desired. But the student was patient for a while. This continued for more than a year.
Every day, the master would beat the boy with a staff as he worked, building the young man’s patience. And every time he was hit, the boy became better at blocking the attacks. But there was no other instruction.
After a year or so, the boy continued his daily tasks. One day, as he was cooking a meal in a very large pot, he thought about his mother and how he missed her tender love for him and his easy life with her. Suddenly from behind and without warning, the old master raised his staff crashing down on the boy. And just as suddenly the boy lifted the large kettle lid and blocked the blow. The master smiled and knew that the student had been humbled and his keen reflexes were ready to be taught.
So, the training began and the boy learned the art of the sword. After a while, the boy believed he was a great fighter and was ready to seek his revenge. Yet, while he slept one night, the master crept into his room and raised the sword bringing it down with all his might. Using his inner perception, the boy quickly grabbed his wooden pillow and blocked the blade. The master smiled once again and said, “You’re done.”
The young man felt he was ready now to get his revenge on the one who slayed his father. He left the temple and headed home. Soon the day came when he was facing the killer. As he prepared to attack, he suddenly froze in shock! There before him stood the old master ready to protect his rival and ready to die in his place. Finally, the true lesson was learned. The boy fell to his knees and thanked the teacher for saving him from committing as horrible a sin as his adversary. He realized that he must love his enemy and forgive his sins. This was the only way to truly win the battle. The master, willing to die for the sinner, had finally made the boy understand the lesson.
What can we learn from this story? How can such an old tale be relevant in today’s world and what exactly is this spirit that completes one’s life and leads to an inner peacefulness and joy?
Working for the wrong reason will never allow you to win. The boy in this story was looking for the strong goal of physical power. His anger and desire to satisfy his physical needs overpowered his life and plagued his spirit. He was consumed by a dark shadow which sucked the very life out of him. Inside, he was dying and was in need of a spiritual rebirth. Is this how you began your experience in Tae Kwon Do? Did you begin seeking mainly to develop your physical strength? Actually, this is how most people begin in martial arts. We are the boy in this story, looking for our own greatness and power. He symbolizes our worldly view of strength and weakness. Have you risen above this level yet? Do you understand yet what humbleness means? What was the master trying to teach the boy?
In Tae Kwon Do, I have taught you that there is so much more than a physical level. Most of you will go through training expecting to become a skillful fighting machine that can slay all your physical giants. Considering some of the dangers we face as we go about our daily living, that is understandable for a beginner. But, at some point, you must transition to the mental level and then move even further into the spiritual level. Easier said than done. Try as you may, you often get stuck blaming your memory or your lack of physical acuity as reasons you are not moving forward. And, even more often, you forget that I have taught you whenever you lower yourself to humbleness, you then begin to rise to greatness.
It is through gaining a humble spirit that you can be reborn into a higher realm of altruistic love for others. Think about those who have great physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual handicaps. In Tae Kwon Do, I have welcomed everyone that seeks to overcome these hardships by encouraging them to hope for something better. When you reach out to others and help them along the way, you lift them up and motivate them to believe in themselves. It is then that they can see past their shortcomings and begin to move past disabilities of this world. What is your sacrifice? To give someone else a chance for rebirth is to open a door for them that they never knew existed. When they go through that door, life becomes truly different.
Sacrifice is not easy, but the glory that come from it is eternal. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the most perfect example of true love when He died on the cross so very long ago. He knew that this was the only way to pave a path to eternal joy. He gave us instructions and is still waiting for us today. Through His blood you are saved.
Are you in need of a spiritual awakening? Is your ego nailed to the cross? Have you got the will and the spiritual power to release the worldly ways of today?
Well, this is the time to open up your heart and find the way to eternal happiness. During the Easter season, we are reminded of the sacrifice that was given to everyone who will accept it as a sign of God’s love.
I know that Tae Kwon Do is not a religion, but I can promise you that it has been a light for me to understanding what my Christian faith is and what it should be. My hope for everyone is that they can renew their spirit of Tae Kwon Do, throw away their pride, become more humble, and create more love in this troubled world. When you can break through the barriers that are preventing you from moving from the physical to the spiritual level, then you will attain a much higher quality life. Jesus was not an armored warrior with weapons of steel, but He has won every battle that He ever fought. The power of love is stronger than any other. Through love, He holds on to us and waits for us to call on Him to slay our giants.
I pray that you will renew your spirit during this Easter season and remember who it is that offers you the most precious spiritual gift ever given. Trust Jesus as your loving Savior and do not nail Him to the cross again. Let Him enter your heart and lead you to a beautiful life filled with love.
Peace be with you all….