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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Somepony to Watch Over Me”

It’s not often that I talk about the same general theme two times in a row, but considering the nature of the episodes I thought it was a good time to bring up a bit more about personal maturity.

Apple Bloom gets driven a little crazy in this episode by Applejack’s overbearing behavior, and with good reason. On realizing that her little sister is growing up when being left home alone for the first time, Applejack suddenly reverts into overprotective mode and regresses into doing absolutely everything for her and baby-proofing the house. Far from ending up letting her have her personal space and independence, Applejack ends up nearly smothering Apple Bloom and driving her to do something rather dangerous in order to prove her independence. As a result, Applejack learns to ease off of her overprotectiveness and start giving her little sister more responsibility, as well as how much she was overreacting.

Yet as I look around the Christian community, sometimes I wonder if many Christians would prefer God to be like Applejack for most of this episode.

I notice it a lot in praise and worship, in Christian music, and even in sermons. There’s constantly a message going out about not acting unless God is directing us, and letting the Lord in and taking control of every aspect of our lives and guiding in each and every decision. Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s parts of this message that are truly valuable. Making ourselves constantly available to God and willing to sacrifice our own personal pleasures and leisure, even our life plans or even dreams, for the sake of promoting the Gospel or being as Christ to others is important; as we are called to serve one another. But like many parts of the Bible and Christianity, I think it’s possible to misapply it.

In particular, I don’t like it when people talk so much about giving up control to God that they want to be in a position where they don’t do anything at all of their own accord. And I especially don’t like it when people talk so much about their actions being guided by external forces that they feel the only alternative to God making all decisions for them is to have the devil or demons driving their behavior. In both cases, the core idea is that you are somehow not to be in control of your own behavior or decisions. And that, to me, is a dangerous precedent to follow.

If you’re at the point, for example, where you feel that you cannot make any decision unless God is specifically telling you what to do, then you are at the point where anyone only needs to prove they are the “Voice of God” and then you will become hopelessly bound to them and dependent on them, whether their intentions be good or ill. Conversely, if you are at the point where you believe you aren’t responsible for your own actions but you are beset by demons possessing or tormenting you, then you won’t take into account what you are bringing into the matter or your own weaknesses or deficiencies and will instead continue to always pray to be “delivered from demons”.

To me, God didn’t create us to be creatures to live according to some perfect blueprint or checklist. If he did that, we’d be no better than animals that operate purely by instinct, or even puppets dancing to a tune. And we certainly wouldn’t have the ability to choose anything good or evil, which is what gives a great deal of human existence its meaning and importance. The ability to choose who we are, what we want to become, and even doing the right thing is something very special. God grants us gifts and talents and provides us direction and wisdom when we ask of it, but what makes something grace or a virtue is when it is done of our own accord rather than because we were specifically told to do it at a given time…when we had the option of choosing the right or wrong thing and we decided to do what was right, even if it was hard.

Note Jesus’ parable in Luke 19:12-27. This is the infamous parable about the nobleman who left his house and entrusted his money to his servants, with two of the servants able to make a profit from what was entrusted to them and the third having hid the money rather than risk losing it; earning the ire of his master. What one should note in this parable is the master only gave his servants the money. While his servants knew about the nature of their master as indicated by their responses, he never told them explicitly to save it or invest it, or where to invest it, or any other instruction. He simply gave them the money to see what they would do with it when he checked on them.

Also keep in mind that God wishes us to become more mature. Matthew 5:48 reads: “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”, and this is in the sense (especially in the context) of being complete and whole. Part of being mature is being responsible, and part of being responsible is making good decisions and lifestyle choices, carrying out tasks that I have to do for myself rather than relying on God to “bail me out” (such as taking care of my own health, equipping myself to perform my job, or getting help for an addiction), and owning up to my own mistakes and repenting of them.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you that, among all other things, you have given me the gift to choose my life for myself and to freely decide between good and evil. Please grant me wisdom and guidance when I need it, and the maturity and responsibility to always take account of my own actions and my need to grow to become the person you envision me to be. With all that you have entrusted to me, I pray that I will prove myself trustworthy. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”