Back in my early years of driving, it seemed like I would be stuck on the side of the road more often than I imagined I would. This was partly due to the fact that I collected a variety of cars that are called ‘buckets’ – vehicles that are decrepit and have major issues. I would go from bucket to bucket until I inherited a car from my grandparents. That car kept me moving. I drove that car until it had over 200,000 miles! At that point it started breaking down on me.
There were a variety of reasons that my car would break down – from a leaky water pump, to a failed ignition (and much more!). The one reason for a breakdown that irked me the most? Not having enough gasoline in the car!!
Quite honestly, this has happened more than once and it makes me shake my head as I think about it. What valid reason do I have to not make it to the gas station in time before I run out of gas and end up on the side of the road? There is no valid reason! Perhaps I saw the gauge go off hinting that I’m going to be out of gas soon and I thought, “I’ll fill up after I get to where I am going.” Or maybe, “I’ll find a cheaper gas station along the way.” Either way, these ‘reasons’ ended up simply being excuses when the time came for the car to sputter no more. The next thing I know is, I’m walking to a nearby gas station with a gas canister in my hand.
This illustration proves a valid point for us to consider when it comes to our faith. We are called to be alert (Mark 13:33), to keep watch (Luke 21:36), and to not fall asleep (1 Thessalonians 5:6). In the times that we are currently facing, it can be fairly easy to do the complete opposite – moan about our situation and see the worst in it. The ‘stay at home’ orders can make one feel lifeless, with little motivation to do anything, let alone focus on the matters of the Lord.
A few weeks back, I was in this state of mind or a ‘funk’ I’ll call it. I allowed my mind to wander in territory that the enemy easily grabbed ahold of. The end result? I became melancholy, pessimistic, and withdrawn. It was difficult to find the joy that I once had. Thankfully, I was shaken out of this miserable state I was in and can now write these words with a warning for each of us.
I see this time that we are in like the vehicle mentioned above. We are supposed to be driving forward ‘towards the prize’, that is Christ Jesus, and who He has called us to be (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). Are we refueling our spiritual tanks by spending quality time with the Lord? Or are we ‘driving on E’, just trying to get by, not knowing the next time we’ll fizzle out on the side of the road?
I want to draw your attention to the Scriptures with Matthew 25:1-13 in view. In this parable, Jesus describes how necessary it is to be prepared, in particular, for His coming. In the previous chapter, Jesus said, “about that day or hour (the end times) no one knows…” (Matthew 24:36) and “therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.” (Matthew 24:42) It’s clear with Jesus’ words that, because we do not know when He will come, we must get ready and keep watch.
Hence, the reason for the parable comparing our readiness for what the Kingdom of Heaven will be like. There were 10 virgins who took their lamps to meet the bridegroom. Now 5 were foolish and 5 were wise. The foolish virgins did not take any oil for their lamps, but the wise ones carried flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was delayed in coming, they all fell asleep.
The story reveals the necessity of being ready when the announcement of the bridegroom came at midnight – a time that no one expected. As the virgins trimmed their lamps to prepare for his coming, the foolish virgins realized that their oil was going out and asked the wise virgins for their oil. The wise virgins declined saying that there was not enough oil for both and that they should go buy some oil for themselves. Then, the bridegroom arrived as the foolish virgins were out shopping for oil. The virgins, who were ready, went with him to the wedding banquet and the door was shut. Afterwards, the foolish virgins arrived back and asked for the door to be opened. The bridegroom replied, “truly I tell you, I don’t know you.”
Let’s breakdown this parable since it is a type of story that is shrouded in symbolism. The bridegroom is Christ and we are the virgins waiting for his return. We do not know time of His coming and surely He has been delayed so others can enter the Kingdom of God “not wanting anyone to perish” (2 Peter 3:9). Even the wise virgins fell asleep. So the timing of the Lord will come when we least expect it.
Yet, the distinguishing factor, that makes all the difference, is what took place behind the scenes before the arrival of Christ. What made the 5 virgins ‘foolish’ was their lack of preparation to get the oil ready for that day. These 5 virgins had just as much time to get ready as the 5 wise virgins did, but they did not. Perhaps they made excuses like I did when I ran out of gas, thinking that they can get it later. Whatever the ‘reason’ for them not being prepared, it made no difference when they found the door was shut and the Lord did not let them in.
I’d encourage you to let that sink in a bit as you evaluate your current walk with the Lord. If you were to measure your spiritual life, what would it be on the gauge – Full? Halfway? Empty? How are you ‘making ready’ the oil for when Jesus comes? If that’s too difficult for you to envision, how are you preparing for when the stay at home orders are lifted? Do you want to come out of this ready?
My hope, through this blog, is for you to take hold of the faith that you have and draw near to the Lord. This is not a time for slumber…it is the hour to be awakened, for your salvation is nearer than when you first believed (Romans 13:11). Find creative ways to seek His face, like memorizing Scripture, or taking a prayer walk around the block (with your mask on, of course!), or using tools to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice (like my journal book, “Write the Vision”).
Let’s fill up our time with reasons to seek the Lord rather than excuses that will only leave us empty, and rejected, later down the road. Be ready!
Have a blessed week!