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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Top Bolt”

Today’s episode featured a pair of Wonderbolt Academy candidates, Sky Stinger and Vapor Trail: two pegasi who had been friends since childhood and flying together for years. Unfortunately, their friendship hadn’t entirely been a healthy one as it was revealed that, while Sky thought of himself as being an expert flier, many of his more amazing stunts and feats were a result of Vapor assisting him by flying alongside him. Furthermore, Vapor herself was pretty much not thinking about what to do with her life beside help Sky succeed; only intent on devoting her energy to assisting him at her own expense. This came to a head when both reached the Wonderbolt Academy and the two learned they would have to perform in solo trials, which would expose Sky’s shortcomings and force Vapor to evaluate her own decision to be in Wonderbolt Academy.

One of the big conflicts in this episode that Rainbow Dash and Twilight Sparkle went through was the decision to expose what was happening to Sky, as he was unaware of how this relationship was working out and attributed all of his success to his own talent. Rainbow Dash and Vapor Trail alike insisted that the truth be concealed to keep him from losing his confidence, and Vapor was even more upset at Dash and Twilight when the truth came out as it prompted Sky to accuse her of trying to sabotage him when he found his previous “swelled head” opinion of himself wasn’t justified. Yet for all of the anger and shaken confidence that resulted, none of that changed the simple fact that it was all going to come out in the solo trials whether Sky and Vapor liked it or not. Both had to “pony up” and take responsibility for their own performances. Hiding from the truth wasn’t helping anyone or changing anything—it was only making it worse the longer it went unexposed. (And truth be told, it probably would have had a much lesser strain on their relationship if it had come out before they both hit Wonderbolt Academy.)

There’s a couple of bumper stickers that came out years back. One read: “God is my Copilot”. Yet not long after that one became popular and widespread, another sticker came out reading: “If God is your Copilot, switch seats”. The idea behind the latter sticker was one that’s prevalent in a lot of churches nowadays: everything should be a complete and total dependency on God. No decision should be made that’s not influenced by God, and every single matter, great or small, should be relied on God to overcome rather than our own effort. While I can agree with this to an extent, I personally think it might be taking things too far.

I believe God wants us to trust in him at all times and to live lives devoted toward bringing the Kingdom of God and glory to him, to rely on him and his Word when making decisions, and to trust in him in times of trouble. But to rely on God for absolutely everything and not the slightest bit on our own work or actions is unhealthy and irresponsible.

Here’s a basic example. Let’s say I have an unhealthy lifestyle of eating a lot of junk food and not exercising enough. I start getting overweight with high blood pressure and shortness of breath. So what do I do? During an altar call for “faith healing”, I pray to God to miraculously take away my high blood pressure and shortness of breath, and then I resume my unhealthy lifestyle. In this case, would it make sense for God to give me a miracle to heal me so that I can go right back to my unhealthy habits?

Here’s a darker example. Let’s say that my habit is alcohol. I go out every weekend and get intoxicated, and a number of times I’ve lost control while drunk and said and done things to others I’ve regretted later, and on top of that I regularly try to drive myself home. Before I get in the car each time, I pray to God to not only get me home safe but to miraculously restore my relationships with people I may have hurt through my bad choices. Would it make sense for God to “fix everything” there?

Constantly relying, either consciously or unconsciously, on someone else to spare you the consequences of your own poor choices isn’t a mark of faith or trust. It’s a mark of personal irresponsibility, immaturity, and dependency. Often, in the case of with people (such as in this episode), it involves the “enabler” being a friend or loved one who is determined to spare the other party the negative consequences of their actions for fear of what will happen to the dependent (just as Vapor didn’t want Sky’s confidence ruined or to be yelled at and accused of backstabbing). That is when it becomes co-dependency.

God does not encourage co-dependency. While God desires people to follow his Will and instruction, he never promises that there will be no difficulty. He promises that he will see them through any difficulty. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10). “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33) Hardships and challenges are what push us and drive us to make us grow. Being delivered from hardships and challenges keeps us where we are. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4) “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:6-7)

There’s no baseball player out there who just got up one day and started hitting home runs and making double plays. There was an awkward time where they clumsily swung the bat and missed pitches being hit to them. No one just wakes up and goes out to pick up their driver’s license. They have to go to a parking lot or out somewhere and fumble trying to master control of the car before they’re suitable enough to pass a test. You can’t go up to a professor at a university, have them wave their hands over you, and say: “boom, you’re an engineer now”. You have to put in the time and hours to study and learn how to be one. And you can’t pray to God to miraculously make you a star ball player, mechanical engineer, or a car driver either. You have to do these things yourself and take responsibility for them even if God is directing you to become or do those things.

And sitting around saying: “those classes are too hard”, “I don’t need to practice”, or “these rules are boring” are just excuses against exerting personal responsibility. So would be blaming the instructors for being “out to get you” or pouting and refusing to exert any effort, like Sky ended up doing.

The entire generation that God personally delivered from slavery in Egypt was brought to the borders of the Promised Land; which God had guaranteed to them if they would rise up and take it. Yet when they saw that they were going to have to fight for it and that there were opponents to overcome, they started making excuses of how it was impossible for them to win, which eventually turned to lamenting that they had ever left Egypt at all and even to wanting to stone Moses for bringing them that way to begin with. As a result, that entire generation died in the desert around the Promised Land without ever setting foot in it; because they preferred to make excuses rather than exert any personal responsibility toward seizing the promise God had given them (Numbers 13-14).

To me, that’s one of the greatest Biblical examples of need for personal responsibility. We would all do well to take it to heart.

Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you for your promise never to leave me or forsake me, and to be with me always until the end of the age. Grant that I have the faith to believe in this wholeheartedly and act upon it; both in carrying out your will for me and in doing what I need to do in order to be a mature individual and grow past my sins and deficiencies. And give me the wisdom to never use you as a crutch or excuse against doing what I need to do for myself. Let me seize everything you have set out for me to take. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”