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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Applejack’s ‘Day’ Off”

Coming up with a good message for this episode was a bit difficult as I recently did one about being stuck in a rut, and that was the main problem of this one. I tried to look a little bit deeper for a different message, and one finally leapt out to me.

In this episode, a lot of time is wasted on the wrong things. The ponies at the Ponyville Day Spa are constantly running around doing laundry to keep their hot towel service going to try and keep guests happy while waiting for the sauna, when what they really needed to do was fix a small leak to the sauna so that it would fill up faster, keep guests from waiting too long, keep them from wanting hot towels, and, as a result, keep the staff from needing to do so much laundry taking away steam from the sauna. Likewise, Applejack wastes a lot of time doing the wrong things herself on her various chores. To pick out the most prominent one, instead of just feeding her pigs, she’s wasting time opening and closing gates, making faces, acting like a chicken, and doing a complicated routine to get the pigs to accidentally knock their own feed bucket into their trough. In both cases, the end result is the same: individuals wasting a lot of time, energy, sweat, and tears doing a lot of tasks that don’t really help their problem when they need to really do something else.

Sin, as others have told me and I have discovered, is a lot like that. As we all know, we are to come to Christ for repentance and forgiveness of sins. Yet over the years I’ve heard a few adages in response to that. One is that God is merciful…when we are caught in sin, he sends us symptoms. The other is that when we are trapped by one large sin, we’ll confess a lesser one all the more. There’s many people (myself included) who get into the trap of committing a habitual sin. We don’t like it. We don’t want to do it. We ask for repentance of it and (possibly only occasionally) truly try to break free of it and change. And yet we always go back to it in the end and have to keep praying for forgiveness.At some point, we need to stop and ask ourselves if we’re focusing on the wrong problem; either intentionally or unintentionally.

I’ll use myself as an example. What I have a horrible time with is anger. I get frustrated and verbally angry at a lot of things…specifically things that are task-related to what I am doing. I’ll mutter at them, then get louder and shout at them, and I might even start cursing at them. And all of them are usually inanimate objects or things that can’t understand me or respond to begin with. For years I prayed for control, for God’s peace, for the power of Christ over me to make me calm, and resolved continuously that I wouldn’t blow up again. The result? Sometimes I would blow up within the next ten minutes.

While I’m still dealing with it, I eventually started praying to God not to stop me from blowing up but to tell me what the real reason behind this was. During one of my emerging blow-ups after that, I finally realized something. I stopped and considered how I felt…and I realized I was scared. My ingrained perfectionism from when I was a child had created a subconscious thought inside of me that the only reason anything ever “went wrong” for me was due to my fault, and that it would be preventable if I would do better. Hence, whenever I was failing at something, I thought it was my fault and I started to feel scared that everyone would blame me for it and somehow condemn me, such as through disciplinary action, loss of job, or seeing me as less of a person. Well, also when I was younger, I was taught the solution to feeling scared and sad was to “get angry” so that I couldn’t feel sad anymore. The real sin wasn’t ultimately my angry outbursts but me being a perfectionist (which is indeed a sin as humans aren’t perfect and part of the purpose of the Bible is to get us to confront and admit our own everlasting imperfection apart from God’s Grace), and what I needed to do (and still do…it’s going to be a long process) is admit to myself that I did all I could and some things aren’t my fault.

Likewise, a person who constantly insults other people and stomps on their feelings may be doing it because they hate themselves, and making other people “lesser” than them is the only way they feel good. Or a person who can’t get along with their spouse might be projecting feelings they had toward their parents or other relatives onto them. People don’t usually end up chained to addiction, in my experience, simply because they like the high from their substance of abuse. It’s that the “high” itself is substituting for something they need in their lives and aren’t getting that’s more important and wholesome. In this case, people might be aware of their “symptom” sins, and might confess and repent from those continuously for years, but what they need to do is face up to the cause.

My suggestion for this week is that if you are struggling with a habitual sin and can’t seem to get out of it no matter how much you pray or repent, perhaps the issue is you’re looking at the wrong sin. In that case, what you may need to do instead is stop wasting time on repenting on the wrong thing and pray to God for revelation of what is the root cause and worry about resolving that. Be warned, however. There’s a good chance that whatever it is could be something you don’t want to think about or admit, and revealing it might be a very painful experience at the time. However, ultimately if we want to be released from a habitual sin, the choice is ours on whether or not to face up to it. Lord Jesus not only got directly to the heart of sin without dancing around it, but he never forced healing onto anyone. Rather, He asked: “Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6)

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for your patience with me, especially in times when I am avoiding issues I need to confront, making excuses, and covering up for greater sins. If I am bound to a habitual sin that I have confessed many times before to you, I pray now that you will reveal to me the cause of this sin, no matter what it may be. Likewise, I pray for the strength and courage to face up to whatever you reveal to me and, if necessary, seek the help I need to overcome it. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”