Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Wax On, Wax off... Wait, What?

Have you ever been asked to do something that you don’t understand or that doesn’t make sense at the time? Daniel from the original Karate Kid certainly had that experience. “Wax on, wax off” was always a fun saying as a kid. For Daniel, it became almost a form of torture. Day in and day out, he was instructed to “wax on, wax off” or “paint up, paint down.” He thought he was supposed to be learning karate from Mister Miyagi and here he was doing chores for him instead. At the height of his frustration, Mr. Miyagi shows Daniel that the actions he has been doing over and over and over again are the very movements he needs to be successful in karate.

Likewise, we have commandments, we have invitations, and we have ordinances from the Lord that are in many instances repetitive. “Thou shalt not…” and “Thou shalt…” are repeated phrases in the 10 commandments. I know that as I was growing up, I mistakenly understood my good works or my keeping the commandments to be what was keeping me from being thrust down to hell and saved in Heaven. Thankfully, mercifully, the Lord has taught me otherwise. While I may have been like Daniel, thinking the “waxing on” of reading my scriptures was for a certain menial purpose and the “waxing off” of taking the sacrament meant I could have the spirit, the Lord, like Mr. Miyagi has shown me a higher way and a more important reason for the things that I do. I have been saved by Jesus Christ. He paid the full price. I am saved by Him! The commandments and invitations and covenants He gives me are ways to help me better get through life, just like waxing on and off better helped Daniel in his karate tournaments. 

The late M. Russell Ballard said: 

“As we embrace His teachings, we give up all of our sins, we repent, and we do all that is in our power to come unto Him in a true spirit of discipleship, knowing perfectly well that it is through His grace that we are saved, even after all that we can do.” Safety, Peace, Joy, and Security in Christ, Ensign, June 2001

So, if Jesus did all the saving, why do I need to keep the commandments? Why do I need to keep spiritually “waxing on and waxing off?” Elder Bednar explained one reason in his October 2010 General Conference address: 

“Praying, studying, gathering, worshipping, serving, and obeying are not isolated and independent items on a lengthy gospel checklist of things to do. Rather, each of these righteous practices is an important element in an overarching spiritual quest to fulfill the mandate to receive the Holy Ghost. The commandments from God we obey and the inspired counsel from Church leaders we follow principally focus upon obtaining the companionship of the Spirit. Fundamentally, all gospel teachings and activities are centered on coming unto Christ by receiving the Holy Ghost in our lives.” (“Receive the Holy Ghost” October 2010)

As I continue to practice the gospel of Jesus Christ, I can have His spirit more abundantly in my life and hopefully, my life and actions will become and look more like the Savior’s. So while I may not be entering any karate tournaments anytime soon, I am continually working on the primary song, “I’m trying to be like Jesus.” It is my hope that through continually doing what He asks me to do that I may draw closer to Him.

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