Scripture Reading: Job 38:1-40:2 / Matthew 24:32-25:13 / Psalm 18:37-42
Our nation has experienced several weather related disasters such as floods, tornados and hurricanes in recent years. Investigators inevitably find the affected people are unprepared for the unexpected catastrophe. FEMA has a disaster course, “Are You Ready? An In-Depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness” to help citizens learn how to protect themselves and their families against all types of hazards.
The step-by-step manual teaches how to develop, practice and maintain emergency plans for pre disaster, during disaster and post disaster. Of great importance is the need for survival supply kits, which could be the difference between life and death. Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of Heaven by sharing a story about a group of women who were prepared and another group of women who were unprepared. Those that were prepared enjoyed the fulfillment of life and those unprepared experienced the devastation of denial.
Jesus relates a wedding story where the bridegroom arrives with his friends at the bride’s house to escort her and her bridesmaids to the wedding ceremony. The bridesmaids would light the way with their lamps. The lamps were small and required refilling for extended burning times.
This oil is central to the story because, “Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: “Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!” (Matthew 25:2-6)
The bridegroom was late and their lamps burned nearly all of their oil. The wise women filled their lamps with their oil and the foolish asked the wise for oil but there was not enough for them to share. The foolish women left to buy oil for the extended wedding processional. The foolish women filled their lamps and made their way to the wedding ceremony but the door was shut. They desperately knocked for the door to be opened but it remained closed because they did not arrive with the wedding party.
Like this story, Christ’s return may seem delayed but He is coming. We are to be watchful, ready and filled with faith and righteousness. It is foolish to neglect God’s grace, grow cold and forsake Him for the cares of this world. We are to keep the light of our souls brightly shining and to be ready in faithfulness. The foolish were satisfied with their spiritual state and had no plans to keep their spiritual life healthy and active. They retained an outward form but they inwardly neglected a true life of faith. Eternal life is not secured by another person’s “oil of faith” but by our own. May He find us waiting and ready for His return because when the door is shut, it cannot be opened…are you ready?