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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “A Hearth’s Warming Tail”

The story of “A Christmas Carol” is an immortal classic, so it’s small wonder it’s been redone so many times in so many different ways. The version that MLP:FIM did for “A Hearth’s Warming Tail” tends to emphasize one aspect better than the others do. In most versions, the main fault of Ebeneezer Scrooge that is pointed out is that he’s miserly, and his miserly ways are causing harm to others around him; in particular his clerk. However, the part that this particular version of the story played up was the other half–Scrooge (and Snowfall Frost) was hurting himself as well. He had gotten to the point of worrying so much about losing money that he had nothing but his hoarded money. No friends…no family contact…even though he was wealthy, it did him no good because he was cheap as he could be. Similarly, in the case of Snowfall Frost, as talented as she was at magic, all she used it for was to learn more magic and devoted her time to practicing it harder. She claimed to be wanting to create a better Equestria, but she neglected anything that would make Equestria worth living in to begin with. All the time she thought she was making the world better she was missing out on the real opportunities available to her. Her life was being totally wasted on a pointless pursuit that she thought was worthwhile while ignoring the things that were truly worthwhile.

Now that I’m an adult, I devote a lot of time to trying to get things done that need to be done. I work hard at my job, and I devote a lot of extra time to deadlines that are constantly coming up. When I get home, there’s plenty to do. Since I live alone housework is my responsibility as well as paying the bills, keeping the fridge stocked, staying up to date on laundry, and all the other chores. I try to go for a run every other day to get some exercise in, and that takes planning and time too, especially if I need to make up a missed day. There’s lots of life’s little hassles as well, such as a need for car repair or license renewal or anything else that comes along. Most of what I do requires me to spend a lot of time driving, not the least of which is my 60 mile round-trip commute every day. Then of course there’s things like this blog that I try to keep up on. Some days I’m lucky to get any time to myself. Some weeks it’s hard to find any, especially since I often have to do some work on the weekend.

All of these things need to get done sometime, and it’s usually better sooner than later. I work pretty hard at times and there are a lot of days I get burned out. When that happens, the last thing I feel like doing is attending a play for my niece or a wrestling match for my nephews. I’ve outright made excuses for family dinner invitations just so I could have a little time to myself. And when I was younger, I constantly made other excuses. And why not? I work hard all day, and a lot of things need to get done when I can find the time. So when I’ve had other things to do, or even when I’ve had free time in the past, I still made excuses to exclude myself. Sometimes it’s to do more housework or sometimes it’s just to relax personally, but basically I want a break from everything. And unfortunately some days the toil and drudgery has gotten so bad that I start to think of requests as a nuisance. Something else demanding my time when I’m busy as it is. Some days I wish I could just break off from it all so I could have some peace. And I’m not even married or have any children. I’m sure those that do feel this even worse.

But I will say one thing. In spite of constantly getting this feeling, out of all of the regrets that I have over the course of my life, the biggest one that I rue is not spending more time with my family. I regret any time we were doing something and I made an excuse I was too tired to run around with them, or any time I was so frustrated with something that I wasn’t wanting to hang out with them, or, especially, any time they actually requested to do something with me and I just plain told them no. You can bet nowadays I really wish they would ask me to do something once in a while.

Lord Jesus Christ spent a lot of time moving around and preaching to large crowds during His earthly ministry, but the Gospels also draw a lot of attention to times He spent just hanging out with His friends and loved ones. (Mark 1:29-31, Mark 6:31-32, Luke 19:1-10, Luke 10:38-42) Was Jesus simply “taking a break” during those times so He wouldn’t fall into a rut with His constant work? Or were these moments just as important to His preaching of the Kingdom of God as the more overt sermons and parables?

Jesus was seen as someone with power and authority, but He was also seen as someone very intimate and personal with those who followed Him. He was a contrast both to the Roman rulers as well as the religious leaders of the day who dictated things from on high and held themselves apart from other people. He may have spoke with authority, and He was indeed higher than all He spoke to, but He never acted that way. That’s probably why His disciples not only approached Him but accepted His teaching, even when it was challenging. His words were not simply commands on high but from someone who was loved and trusted; someone who had built up a relationship with them and who let them know how they were important to Him; someone who you could see coming over to your house and “hanging out” for a while. Jesus was as much “God” in those situations as He was in the bigger ones. He was available then as He was in the public eye. And in fact, one of the great emphasis points of Christianity is to view Jesus in this way: someone intimate and personal as a father rather than a great powerful being on high proclaiming law and judgement.

In the same way, many of us have friends and loved ones in which the most valuable thing we wish from them is not a roof over our heads, food on the table, or chores done, but they themselves.Likewise, there are many who probably want the same thing of us. When you truly care about someone, then simply having them around for a time is a joy and a gift. You connect with them in those moments far more readily than you do in any major event or occasion, because it’s there that you get to know them and interact with them on a more personal level. What more, it’s something that no amount of time, energy, or money can buy or substitute…no matter how much, at times, we try.

Our friends and loved ones are a gift from God. So is the little time we have to connect with them. To take either for granted is a dangerous practice.

My request for this week is that everyone keep that in mind as they go about their daily lives, and not neglect to make time and memories with those you love. And most of all, never neglect or put off an opportunity to let others know you care about them and to show it, even if it is stressful at the time. You’ll thank yourself for those moments later.

I close with a quote by Robert H. Smith:

“The clock of life is wound but once,
And no man has the power
To tell just when the hands will stop
At late or early hour.

To lose one’s wealth is sad indeed,
To lose one’s health is more,
To lose one’s soul is such a loss
That no man can restore.

The present only is our own,
So live, love, toil with a will,
Place no faith in “Tomorrow,”
For the Clock may then be still.”

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, you have given me so much to be thankful for, but today I choose to thank you for the time I have been granted on this Earth. I pray that, as part of a good steward of what you have given me, I don’t neglect all the people you have brought into my life who are close to me and beloved by me. Please help me to share my love for them and let them know it, and thereby enrich both their lives and my own in the time you have given me; reminding myself that the most valuable things I possess to share with others can’t be earned through material means. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”