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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “The Crystal Empire”
I remember scratching my head quite a bit over this episode. After all, the individual who ends up getting all of the accolade for saving the Crystal Empire is…Spike. That’s kind of confusing. For one thing, the individual who actually pulled it off was Cadance, and that was only after defending the empire single-hoofedly for a prolonged period until the last of her stamina gave out. Even though Twilight Sparkle supposedly didn’t do it herself, she did most of the work. She was the one who discovered where the Crystal Heart was, she was the one who got around King Sombra’s traps, and she even threw it clear of his magic “security system”. By comparison, all Spike truly did was carry the heart about ten feet, trip, and then fall. Hardly the stuff of legend, and compared to the contribution of the others it didn’t make much of a difference.
I think about things like that a lot. Who cares if I donate a couple bucks to that one cause? There’s hundreds of millions living in abject poverty. Even everyone in the country donating wouldn’t stop that. Or who cares if I volunteer at that one activity? Most people there are seasoned veterans at this, and they do the job better than me and connect to people better while I’m off doing some mundane task that anyone could have done. Or who cares if I pray for that one person to get better? There’s hundreds in the congregation already praying for it who are more righteous than me, and even if there wasn’t God can answer the prayer of one person as easily as they can of hundreds.
To elaborate further…there I am in Church or in my community. I try to pray and worship like everyone else, I try to keep my eyes, ears, and heart alert for “open doors”, I have my own devotional life, and once in a blue moon something happens where I get the opportunity to do something genuinely good and Christ-like for someone and I seize on it and it feels fantastic…
Only for me to hear stories about lone missionaries enduring verbal and physical abuse in Asia for five years straight before getting a village to come to Christ, or others causing miraculous healing or breaking demonic possession in another part of the world, or individuals like Mother Theresa who are able to completely surrender everything they have just in order to care for sick people I’d be afraid to even be in the same room as, and dozens of other stories. Most people are encouraged by hearing stories like that, but people like me just kind of think: “My own little contribution is nothing compared to that.” It makes me wonder if I’m even doing anything that makes a difference or if whatever good I do manage to do in my life is ultimately pointless in light of the real work or mighty deeds other people are doing.
But as I thought about this episode a bit more, I got to thinking. Spike may have only carried the Crystal Heart ten steps and then dropped it into Princess Cadance’s path…but there was no one else around to walk those ten steps. In the grand scheme of things it was little, but it was something that had to be done to get the heart from Twilight to Cadance, and it was something only he had been there to do.
In the Old Testament, everyone remembers Moses for all he did for Israel, but the man grew up in an Egyptian culture and household and was no doubt being told his whole life to follow the Egyptian religion. The one influence he had for the Hebrew faith would have been his biological mother who had inadvertently become his nurse when he was put into the house of Egyptian royalty. While David is renown for the deeds of his entire life, he constantly was getting assistance from others, whether they were those providing for him while he was on the run from Saul, the members of his court when he established his monarchy, or his personal “mighty men” who are actually called out by name individually in the Books of Samuel and Chronicles. Elijah himself was a great and bold prophet in some of the darkest times of the divided Israel, but someone had to have been bold enough while he was growing up to teach him about God in the midst of all of the pagan religions. The great apostle Paul was able to travel throughout the farthest corners of the Roman Empire spreading the Gospel, and by his own admonition he decided to work for his own keep while doing it. Yet he also devoted time in his letters to call out everyone who he knew was helping either him or other evangelists, and in the Acts of the Apostles there are constant references to people who reacted favorably to the first words he or other apostles said on arrival and allowed them to stay and keep preaching. Maybe all of these unsung heroes or lesser mentioned individuals aren’t the ones who get the greater quotes or praise, but they were all indispensable. Each one was another “ten steps that no one else could make”.
As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 12: 21-26, “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
Everyone in the Church is part of the Body of Christ. And just because they may not be as overt as some other parts doesn’t mean they don’t help bring about the better whole. Nor should someone who hasn’t been quite as gifted as someone else think whatever good they manage to do is utterly worthless.
I try to remember this quote by Edward Everett Hale whenever I’m feeling discouraged or useless in terms of helping the Body of Christ:
“I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything,
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything,
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.”
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, you know that I am not perfect and you know all of my strengths and weaknesses, and you would not have me any other way. Please help me to always live with getting the most out of the ‘talents’ you have entrusted to me. And when I see others accomplishing much more with what seems like the same or even less, help me never to be discouraged or dismayed in myself but encouraged to aspire to greater. And help me never to overlook or discount the genuine work I do for you because there have been others who have done greater works. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”