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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Celestial Advice”

It’s a maxim so old, tried, and true that it doesn’t even need a proverb: you never know what you have until it’s gone.

Such was certainly true in this episode. Going in a bit of a different direction, I won’t so much refer to what happened to the characters as my own reaction to it. Like many fans, I didn’t like Starlight Glimmer that much going into this. I thought her redemption was too rushed and weak, she was made too much into “Pony Sue”, and she distracted too much from the other characters. I also thought the Season Six finale was rather contrived in a flimsy attempt to make her look good by having her save everyone.

Yet in spite of all of that, I found an odd thing happening when this episode neared. The promos indicated a very real possibility that she might leave being a regular on the cast and only appear more at random like many other characters. The thought of her distancing herself from the rest of the Mane Six was something I thought would make me happy. It was, after all, what I thought I had wanted. And yet when the episode arrived, I actually found myself regretting it. I had learned to appreciate her character flaws for making her more real and relatable rather than someone to hate. I could see aspects of her in myself and in other people around me which made her easier to connect to. And her mere existence allowed greater possibilities for plots and the ability to see sides of others we hadn’t seen before. Finally, I appreciated her character type and way of doing things. To my astonishment, I didn’t want her to leave. And I actually liked it when the end of the episode revealed she was staying on.

This was kind of a flimsy example, but it got me thinking of more serious cases. It’s a common theme among older people, myself included, that we have lots of regrets about vast periods of our lives that were devoted to pointless worrying and wasted on what amounted to nothing. Of course, hindsight is always 20/20, and not everything that we see as unimportant as adults wasn’t important when we were younger, but that doesn’t make it any less regretful. It doesn’t make us think less of how much time we spent on things that didn’t matter and how much more we wish we had spent on things that were worthwhile. Part of that is a natural result of growing older. A lot of it, however, is maturity and the ability to gradually see things beyond yourself and the immediate desire.

A classic example is with friends and loved ones. It’s a common thing that when someone is alive you focus on things about them that annoy you or make you angry. Perhaps we even look for reasons to stay away from certain people, rant about what annoys us about them behind their backs, and even use them as anecdotes for what to avoid or who not to emulate. And then, when they pass on, we turn around and speak nothing but good about them and wonder why so much time was spent arguing and fighting, or focusing only on the “parts we disliked”, and not making more memories together while we could.

Perhaps years of family reunions pass in which one finds the experience boring or tedious and frequently excuses themselves; only for a patriarch or matriarch in charge of everything to stop holding them and, suddenly, they find themselves fully losing contact with the rest of their extended family. Perhaps one day one hears a news story about how an old acquaintance or even an old friend from high school ended up in an accident or died, and they realize they were so close by to where he or she lived yet he or she never bothered to stay in touch.

This, of course, doesn’t begin to get into times spent not trying out a new pursuit, or going on that vacation or mission trip, or pursuing that career or dream. Or other cases about deciding whether or not to build a family or visit an old home, school, or hangout more before it was torn down. Yet in all of these cases and many others, the same things always come to mind:

“Why did I spend so much time worrying about my job, or my car, or my house, or how I was going to pay this bill or wanting to watch that one TV show or wanting to do that hobby? Why didn’t I spend more time on this? Why did I think that other stuff was so important?”

Time, and age, is the greatest aid toward focusing one’s priorities. I’m at the age of my life where I find myself starting to realize some doors I didn’t go through when I had the chance are now closed to me forever, and I start wondering about what it will be like one day when I’m in my 70s or, God-willing, 80s. Thinking like that, a lot of priorities start to shift.

One of the reasons I believe I see a heavy bias toward older individuals as Christians is not just due to the changing times but the fact that, at some point, everyone is going to reach a time in their life where they’ll take a good look at where they’re at, see that they have fully come into their own as an adult, that they’re providing for themselves, making ends meet, perhaps are married and have a family of their own, and then ask themselves: “What now?” Do you just keep this going until you get too old to keep it up and then wait to die? Will all the thoughts, the hopes, and the dreams you had, fulfilled or unfulfilled, and all the feelings and experiences you went through all your life simply fade to nothing? Will I ever see those people who left an impact on me growing up again, or are they gone forever? What happens if I’m the last of my family to die? Will anyone know I was ever here in 100 years?

Some atheists and agnostics would say this is the point where the “cowards” turn to God. Fair enough. I’m sure some people embrace Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and any other religion you can think of simply because they’re scared to die and they want reassurance…although I would consider you a true rarity of an individual if you weren’t, at least at one point in your life regardless of your faith or lack thereof, afraid to die.

Yet death can happen at any time. You don’t have to be elderly to die tomorrow. And while death seems far more real as we get older, as I said before there’s more than just death that takes significance as you get older. You learn to appreciate life better. You learn to see how foolish some of the things we did as children and teenagers were; not just in how we treated ourselves through reckless behavior but how we treated others, such as parents we used to think were “smothering” us or acts we did to others out of spite or meanness that we realize served no purpose. We reach the point where we’ve mastered things such as driving, housework, and home repair and have become totally self-sufficient, where we have the ability to treat ourselves to what we like, and we start realizing there’s always something else we need to get, drink, or do in order to get the “buzz” that we thought we would get from the last thing we indulged in. We start realizing small moments such as sitting together on a porch or taking a walk were far more important than we ever realized, and we put far more stock in time than in our youth when it seemed that was all we had. We stop thinking about taking care only of ourselves and start wondering what sort of legacy we’re going to leave behind. All of these things come with age and also turn people to the Bible, God, and Lord Jesus…in my experience far more than the fear of death.

Lord Jesus Christ came to Earth to give people life and give it more abundantly, as He promised (John 10:10). He did so by paying the ultimate price for the sins of you, me, and everyone in the world through His crucifixion on Calvary; wiping away all of the evil we have ever done and will ever do so long as we trust in Him and accept His Sacrifice so that one day we can have eternal life with Him in Heaven. “Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.” (Romans 5:18-19) “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16).

Yet He didn’t come simply to make us spend our lives toiling in misery and hoping for death so we can collect on that gift. The Kingdom of God is at hand within us (Luke 17:20-21). He came to give people liberty from their worries, their fears, their pasts, and their pains now. To turn people away from living in dread and fear of the future and in its place to give them hope. To have them stop thinking only of the pain, toil, drudgery, and ultimate futility of this life and to live in happiness and faith at our destiny and joy at how every person, no matter who they are or where they are, is not only a precious Child of God (John 1:12; Galatians 3:26) but can make this world better today. To not focus so much on ourselves and everything wrong that we can’t see the beauty and opportunity in what we have all around us.

If you would like to invite Jesus into your life to become your own personal Lord and Savior, to be freed from your sins and have the promise of eternal life, and to start seeing this world and everything around you in a whole new way with new appreciation, you can do so by praying today’s suggested prayer (borrowed from In Touch Ministries) or something like it:

Lord Jesus, I ask You to forgive my sins and save me from eternal separation from God. By faith, I accept Your work and death on the cross as sufficient payment for my sins. Thank You for providing the way for me to know You and to have a relationship with my heavenly Father. Through faith in You, I have eternal life. Thank You also for hearing my prayers and loving me unconditionally. Please give me the strength, wisdom, and determination to walk in the center of Your will. In Jesus’ name, amen.”