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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “On Your Marks”

Apple Bloom had an interesting problem in this episode. Now that she had discovered her true purpose at long last, she found herself sad and dismayed to learn that there wasn’t much “demand” for her and her friends to help ponies with Cutie Mark problems. When they decided to split up and try different things more suited to their interests and hopefully find ponies in need of help in those tasks, she was unable to find anything else she liked save one thing (dancing), and then saw that she was not suited to do that with someone else; making her think it was a waste of time as, if she couldn’t be paired with anyone else, she wouldn’t have a chance to help them out with their Cutie Mark problems.

Yet as it turned out she was so bummed about this that when a fellow dancer came up and pretty much laid out a Cutie Mark problem for her to help him with, she didn’t even notice. She was too busy dwelling on how things didn’t go the way she planned and how the way she set out to find something to do didn’t work.

While I personally think the biggest problem plaguing the Church in the USA today is allowing ourselves to subscribe to the societal mindset and behavior, and the next biggest problem after that is just plain apathy, another problem that afflicts even the energetic, well-meaning Christian is looking for just the right opportunity to join a ministry, be involved in some sort of outreach, or find where we “seem to fit in the best”…and completely ignore what’s right in front of us. This was definitely true of me back in college. I was trying to find something big and daring to do with my life that would make a major impact for Christ. I kept hearing all these stories one after another of not only incredible missionaries and modern-day martyrs, but accounts of incredible miracles and acts of faith. It got to the point where I figured the only way I’d make any impact at all would be if something like that happened to me, even though I couldn’t honestly see myself in the same situation. I kept looking for something that would be a big calling for me; something that would really let me stand out and make a difference.

Unfortunately, as a result of always looking for something big that would make me like one of the major “saints”, I missed out on a lot of smaller opportunities that I could have had for outreach. When I did do the smaller opportunities, I was so fixated on how I could be an outstanding Christian in those situations and so worried about always saying or doing just the right thing that would lead someone to Christ that I never noticed how the other Christians around me were doing a much better job just talking and interacting with strangers as friends rather than preachers. And never did I think of my own talents and aptitudes, instead thinking I needed to be like those with other talents and aptitudes. In the end, I didn’t grow nearly as much in my spiritual life as I could have in college even with all of the opportunities right in front of me.

I think the same goes for many Christians in one sense or another. A lot are probably like I was–always looking for what our calling is and, in the course of doing so, missing out on all the opportunities around us. Perhaps we expect it to be something so big and grand and in the way we expect an encounter that we forget to listen to God’s voice telling us we found our place.

Yet even if that’s not the case, I think a lot of Christians expect opportunities to be like Christ to be poignant and stand out, rather than seeing that the Christian walk is a way of life rather than an event. Case in point: I know one Christian who constantly puts out devotional messages and statements on the need of Christians to be more on fire for God and less politically correct about our messages…then turns around and constantly puts up posts mocking people of different political affiliations and nationalities. Just for me personally, I don’t think going out of your way to make fun of people you want to become Christians is that good of an idea. And it’s somewhat contradictory if you talk about major political issues and revival while at the same time engaging in petty little behaviors that drive all those around you away.

As the Bible says, God’s ways are not our ways. “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'” (Isaiah 55:8-9). It provided a rather heavy example of that in the bulk of the New Testament. Because most of the Jewish people of that day and age expected a Messiah to come in one way and were looking for Him to appear in that way, they didn’t even recognize Him when He did show up, even when He fulfilled all the prophecies about Him. Nowadays we tend to mock and laugh at those people for not recognizing Jesus, but the fact of the matter is when we expect (or want) things to occur in a certain way or fit into a certain framework, we’ll often ignore anything that’s contrary to that even if it’s another way of achieving the same end. I honestly do wonder how many Christians today would just have easily fallen in the same camp as the Scribes and the Pharisees of Jesus’ time.

In no matter what situation we find ourselves in, or what contradictory notions, mixed messages, or the like circling about us, one thing we can never neglect is to keep listening for the Voice of God, and to prepare ourselves for whatever it might be telling us. Odds are, more often than not, when God does command us to go to a new ministry or to try something different, it will be something we didn’t expect or don’t feel too prepared for, as trying new things is the only way we grow.

There’s also a good chance it will be something closer at hand than farther away. A good example in the Old Testament is the calling of Moses. True, he was called to do something great and fantastic and far beyond anything he had ever done before or thought he could do, but when he started asking God what he should do if the Israelites didn’t believe that he was sent by God, here was the response: “Then the LORD said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ ‘A staff,’ he replied.” (Exodus 4:2). God ended up using that staff as a way of providing miracles, by first granting it the power to turn into a snake, and then later using it as a symbol when Moses turned the waters of the Nile into blood and later to part the Red Sea. God didn’t break the heavens and send down some magic sword or stave or any other object to do these things; he used what Moses already had at hand and was right in front of him to work his power.

For these reasons, none of us need to be getting too lax or too focused on one portion of the horizon. Instead, it’s better that we make a determination to make ourselves available for whatever God is doing in the world and around us each and every day of our lives. That is ultimately how we can not only be ready for his calling if and when he does call us to something great, but also to make a difference here and now.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you that each day of my life is filled with opportunities to bring the Kingdom of God to all people and to improve the world in which I live. I am available today. Please use me however you see fit to do your Will. And please grant me the wisdom to see what opportunities you are offering to me every day, whether they be minor or major, and to respond accordingly. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”