Bible, Christian Life, Christianity, determination, devotional, Equestria Games, failure, fandom, God, hope, inspirational, Jesus, motivational, My Little Pony, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, New Testament, Old Testament, optimism, shortcomings, Spike, strengths, success, weaknesses
Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Equestria Games”
Spike goes through a bit of an emotional roller coaster in this one. On his first arrival to the Crystal Empire following the incident with King Sombra, he’s pleased and proud to see the citizens revering him as a national hero. Yet while this could easily give him a swelled head, it soon has another nasty side effect as he feels the need to “play the part” of being someone great, bold, and heroic for all of the local citizens. This gets sidetracked when he chokes up before a crowd to light the torch for the Equestria Games, and gets worse when he tries to make up for it later by singing the Ponyville Anthem for the gold medalists, only to find out that it’s supposed to be the Cloudsdale Anthem at the last moment.
The big part, however, is when Spike finally does manage to do something genuinely good and heroic, namely stop a big accident from occurring in the stadium during the ice archery competition, he reveals he still feels like a failure; dismissing what he did as not worth terribly much. That, in turn, illustrates the lesson for that episode and for this devotional: attitude.
Henry Ford once said something simple yet profound: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Most challenges that we are faced with in our lives are won or lost before even being undertaken via the “battle in the mind”. To that end, what makes or breaks us is attitude. If I approach something with a sense of determination, a belief in the power of God behind me, and I’m resolved to never give up and do the best that I can give, then there’s a chance I could still fail but not nearly as great of a chance as another person who approaches the same problem with depression, despair, hopelessness, and a sense of futility.
It’s really quite simple. To be able to overcome any new challenge, I have to believe I can do it first. A positive attitude goes a long way in that. While not to endorse being an egomaniac or anything, if I see myself as competent, intelligent, and able to think my way out of problems given to me, then I can attack an incoming challenge with everything I have and a hope for success. Even if I fail, I can conclude I gave it everything I had and that I can learn from the experience and do better next time. By comparison, if I see myself as a failure, dumb, uninspired, and that the challenges I face are too hard to overcome no matter what I do, then you can bet I’ll put only minimal effort into it. If I fail, I’ll see that as confirmation that I’m a failure. But even if I succeed, I’ll say it was due to luck or the problem was something anyone can do because I already know I’m a failure.
To sum up, if someone sees themselves as a “winner”, they’ll see victory even in times of defeat. If someone sees themselves as a “loser”, they’ll see defeat even in times of victory. It’s not the reality or facts that count; it’s all in how you see yourself.
Many Christians, especially “new” ones but sometimes ones that have been Christians for years, can suffer from this.Focusing on their past mistakes or failures, they can feel ill-prepared to do what God has called them to do or to even try out other forms of ministry. Also, they might get the sense that they themselves are “worse” than the other Christians around them; less able to pursue God as vigorously as others and less talented to be able to outreach to other people. In these situations, even testimonies that are inspirational fall flat because the individual only sees it as an example of something they “can’t be” or another area in which they failed.
When things like this happen, we have to realize that what we’re seeing and feeling is the world through a distorted lens. The truth is all Christians are “broken” and are sustained by the power of the Holy Spirit to do great things rather than relying on their own talents and strength. And no one in the Church who has done something great and extraordinary just woke up one day and said this was exactly how their life was going to go. God doesn’t want perfect people; he wants an opportunity to move through the brokenness of people. As the Apostle Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9 when referring to the things in his life that kept him from being “perfect”: “But he(the Lord) said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Furthermore, Paul had good cause to see himself as a failure as a Christian. His own early life was marked by religious persecution of Christians and even assenting to them being put to death. He even admitted, going by his own feelings, that he was the “least” of the Christians. “For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” (1 Corinthians 15:9)
Yet he also was determined not to let his past dictate what he was doing now or let it limit him and what he could do. “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)
One of the hallmarks of Christianity is that just as we don’t have to wait to feel “perfect” before coming to Jesus Christ, we don’t have to be bound by our past or by our own self-condemning thoughts. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) By the Blood of Jesus, we are already “winners”. My message for today is to keep that mindset when discouragement, fear, and especially self-doubt come to pass.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you that it is in my weaknesses, shortcomings, and deficiencies that you choose to act and manifest your power in my life. Whenever I am feeling like a failure or a hopeless case, help me to remember that failure is an event, never a person, and help me to see myself the way that you see me and envision all that you want me to be. Grant that I may never see difficulty in every opportunity, but opportunity in every difficulty. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”