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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Games Ponies Play”

It’s pretty obvious from Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice made on our behalf to grant us salvation and redemption, but one thing I still have trouble realizing sometimes is that God is good enough to grant us gifts and blessings so long as we hold true to his Word and command…even when we don’t deserve them.

This episode makes a point of that. The Mane Six bend over backward in this episode in an attempt to please who they think is a high-ranking chairpony for the Equestria Games in an attempt to persuade her to have them held in the recently-reinstated Crystal Empire. After numerous attempts to make everything perfect and please her, they make a horrifying discovery that they picked up the wrong pony from the train station, and the actual examiner has been neglected all day. In a rush to try and make up for it, they scour the Empire looking for her, only to find that she’s at the local spa and meeting with the original pony they spoke to. Taking the treatment she received as an “unbiased opinion of the Crystal Empire’s hospitality”, she ends up persuaded to hold the games in the Crystal Empire after all. In an unexpected turn, it turns out that their good behavior and attitude of hospitality ended up paying off even if it wasn’t done in the way they intended.

This reminds me of something similar that happened to me not too long ago. While stopping by a local store on a windy day, I opened my car door to get out and paused to reach in my car for something. However, the wind kept carrying my door and ended up knocking it into a car at the side of me, chipping the paint. It wasn’t the worst chip in the world, but neither was it something so small that one would think nothing of it. I knew in similar situations, whoever would have been responsible would have just driven off. But I knew that God wanted me to be responsible for my own actions and mistakes, and the right thing to do would be to admit to what happened.

After waiting a long time for the owner to come out I realized it was a car belonging to a store employee, so I went in and had them page the employee. She didn’t appear to be too happy to be called up or with what I told her. Trying to keep my insurance from going up, I offered to pay as much money as I could withdraw from an ATM now as surety to cover the rest of any expenses that she could forward to me in the bill for to repair the damage. However, after calling her husband, she told me she didn’t want the money; she wanted her husband to take a look at it and then get back to me, or he could meet me on the lot right there.

It’s important to note that over a year prior I had family members whose car had slid on ice for a light fender bender with another car, and the drivers of the other vehicle to this day have been trying to squeeze excessive amounts of money out of them for what was a minor incident under an “Act of God” condition. I feared that I would be charged for every dent or scratch on the car after admitting to the one I made, and I said I would rather meet now so I could only admit to one bit of damage. The whole time, inwardly, I was brooding and barely keeping from muttering. In spite of doing the right thing, I immediately began to think I was stupid for not just driving off. I thought this was going to explode into a major fiasco that would take months to clear up. I started thinking only fools were honest because they have to suffer for their actions. I continued to think that all the way until he arrived and I went out and showed the same damage.

As it turned out, the man shook my hand, thanking me for being honest and saying he wished there were more people like me in the world, then forgave me for the whole incident without asking for a cent from me.

While outwardly I was grateful, inside I felt two inches tall. I remembered all too well what I had muttered under my breath and how sore I had gotten, to the point of getting angry at myself for having confessed in the first place. In all honesty, I fully deserved at that point to at least pay for the chip if nothing else than for my bad, grudging attitude. And yet not only had I been forgiven the accident, but I had actually been complimented for confessing to it.

People throw around the term “counting your blessings” as if it’s pat or cliche, but the fact is it’s neither. The truth is any of us who are alive are getting at least one blessing each new day, and most of us are getting several that we take for granted. Chances are most people who think of God as being indifferent, callous, or uncaring never stopped to realize just how many times they’ve been blessed by him every day. Even in the worst family crisis or time in which things were going terrible, I can recall that I’ve still received blessings from God. Yet most of us usually can only focus on what we lack and don’t have. And we focus so much on it that we somehow feel that entitles us to start acting ungrateful, bitter, resentful, or to start holding back from giving of our time, talent, and treasure. And for those of us who have accepted Lord Jesus Christ’s free offer of forgiveness and salvation, we may become the most indifferent of all because we will never see or experience the Hell that we have been delivered from, or the suffering and torment that was our due. And that might lead us to be the most ungrateful of all.

Fortunately, God is merciful as well as gracious. He not only gave me a gift in the form of a forgiving and sympathetic individual, not only a lesson about sticking with doing the right thing even when it defies logic and my own self-interest, but he also gave me a healthy reminder of how he can grant me favor even when I don’t always act in a way that is deserving of it.

That’s something we all need to keep in mind the next time we feel the need to complain about doing good.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you that you are a good father and give us good gifts, even when we don’t always act in a way deserving of it. Rather than focusing on what we lack, what we wish we had, or even when times are not going the best, help us to focus instead on each favor and gift we receive each day so that we will waste neither them nor our salvation. And please forgive us ‘when we whine’. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”