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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Crusaders of the Lost Mark”

There’s a popular proverb that has gone around quite a bit nowadays: insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I feel if that’s true then we’re unfortunately in a society of mostly crazy people, as everyone has likely done this at one point or another. One example is shown right in this episode.

At this point, for four (four and half, really) seasons Diamond Tiara had been rather repulsive: constantly being mean, egotistical, snobbish, and rubbing her status in the faces of the Cutie Mark Crusaders mostly out of meanness and spite. However, as it turned out, she despised her own behavior. She did these things because her mother taught her it was the only way to “get ahead” and gain respect from her peers. Yet as she began to find out in this episode, the opposite was true. It progressively alienated her from other children as she gained the status of a bully, and left her feeling more alone and miserable until her behavior finally took her one and only friend from her and left her with nothing.

I have a feeling a lot of us do this. Not necessarily being a bully, that is, but doing something repeatedly that deep down, or perhaps not so deep down, we know is self-destructive. Maybe it’s learned behavior. Maybe it’s our background. Maybe it’s simply because we never thought of anything better. But whatever the reason, we’re stuck in a rut…doing something that always ends up making us feel bad, empty, lacking, or miserable; and yet we keep on doing it to fulfill a need; hoping that things will one day change or get better.

However, to coin another saying, if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you always got and keep feeling the way you’ve always felt.

In this episode, eventually Diamond Tiara is offered a choice by the CMCs: either continue to be a domineering bully and possibly get her way today but go on tomorrow and every other day alone and friendless; or pick a route that may not get her the prestige or honor that her mother is pressuring her to get but will win her friends, love, and admiration. The choice is demonstrated symbolically as clear as night and day, but nevertheless it’s still Diamond’s choice. She can either choose to continue doing what she’s always done and getting the same result, or she can make the choice and change that she knows she needs to make.

That’s not to say it was a necessarily easy choice for her even then. After all, there was some risk involved. Suddenly acting nice to others would probably be a radical shift for her that would require far more openness and vulnerability on her part. In her own words, she would need to stop being “a diamond that never breaks” and risk more people seeing her sensitive and vulnerable. Some of her past victims might not be as trusting of her turning over a new leaf as well and could harbor lasting resentment even if she changed. And, of course, there’s the fact that her domineering mother would likely not approve in the slightest. She might even punish her for it. However, the alternative was to go on miserable, unhappy, unloved, and alone. She knew what she needed, and now it was up to her to make the decision that she wanted better or to continue on her self-destructive path.

All of us will likely face one or more tough choices in life that could change everything. Some of them are lifestyle choices, like making a career change or an educational path change, or perhaps where to live and who to marry or to have a child, or even to change our diet and exercise in response to a health issue. But others may be something more severe, such as the choice to give up an addiction, break a destructive habit, or part from a relationship which is toxic. In the latter cases, for all that is happening to us that might be negative, it is likely the reason we choose the path of self-destruction is because we get something out of it–whether it’s to fill a need of ours or some small pleasure substituting for inner peace. Otherwise, we wouldn’t keep doing the behavior. Yet there’s always a negative consequence, and the choice is eventually ours as to whether or not we want to keep living with the consequences, even if it will eventually lead to a far more negative outcome for ourselves and our lives, or if we want to break the cycle and make a change for the better.

And when it comes to choices for how our lives will go, the biggest choice that any of us will have to face ultimately comes down to where we will spend eternity.

Everyone, from the greatest to the least, at some point has become a slave to their own evil and wrongdoing, or “sin”. There is no one who has never done at least one thing wrong; out of selfishness, spite, cruelty, greed, jealousy, envy, or any other self-serving or wicked reason. And everyone is faced with the just penalty of it: separation from God forever in the place known as Hell. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23). “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done… And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:12, 15).

Jesus Christ and His Sacrifice provided the only way to Heaven 2,000 years ago. Without it, there is no other way to go into Heaven, and no other way by which we can be saved from the punishment for sin. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'” (John 14:6). “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1-2).

This gift is freely given to everyone, but is not forced upon anyone. It’s a choice that everyone has to make for themselves and decide whether or not they wish it. Often it means giving up an old lifestyle or a self-destructive habit, or perhaps even a whole slew of them. It might even mean alienation from friends or even family. Therefore it’s not always easy or smooth. Yet it’s the difference between eternal spiritual death and eternal life, as well as living life more abundantly and purpose-driven here and now. Of making a brand new start and seeing yourself and the world in a whole new way versus being condemned to a bleak, hopeless destiny. As Jesus said: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10). Jesus’ Sacrifice wasn’t just to grant us salvation one day, but to set us free from any fear, any doubt, any past hurt, and any emotional and mental scars or “chains”…to help us more fully live, fully love, and fully develop as a person today…right now.

So long as you are alive, that choice is presented day after day as it has been throughout eternity. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” (Revelation 3:20). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23).

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live,” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Just as in ancient times the Israelites had the choice of choosing God or choosing death, so too do we have the choice of choosing life through Jesus’ act of salvation or death as the wages for our sin. It’s always there and always freely given to those willing to surrender their lives to Christ and accept it so long as we are alive.

However, none of us know when our death will come and it will be too late to accept it. As Jesus cautioned, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (Matthew 25:13).

Therefore, if this is one choice you have been putting off, my suggestion for this devotional is to think hard about it this week; if you wish to be free not only of the wages of sin but from whatever past hurt, evil, or experience is weighing you down and keeping you from fully living. It’s the most important decision you will ever make.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for this new day and all the opportunities I have in it, and that every day you have blessed me with life you have given me the ability to make a choice to do good or evil, to choose life or death, and to be better or worse. Please guide me to always make the right choice and to be brave enough to choose it wisely, even if I know there might be some loss or hardship to myself. And if until now I have been ‘on the fence’ about choosing Jesus as my personal Lord and Savior, of surrendering my heart to Him, and of accepting His free gift of salvation and promise to ‘have life more abundantly’, I accept it now. (Praying the prayer below sincerely is a good way to do this.) Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

“Dear God, I confess that I am a sinner and am sorry for all the wrongs that I have done and the sins that I have committed. I believe that your Son, Jesus Christ, died on the cross for my sins. Please forgive me and I invite you, Jesus, to come into my heart and life as my personal Lord and Savior. I commit and trust my life and way to you. Please forgive me, and give me the desire to be what you want me to be and the will to do what you want me to do. Thank for the greatest gift anyone could ever receive; that is for coming to earth and dying on the cross in my place to pay the just penalty for all my sins. Thank you, too, for your forgiveness and free pardon, for the gift of eternal life, and for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully in Jesus’ name, amen.”