Ready and Waiting [Devotion]

This week I wanted to talk about a parable that has been brought up several times by one of the members of our Pray and Plan team. The Parable of the Ten Virgins. Before I comment on it I’ll let you read it.

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13)

I must confess I’ve never given this parable too much thought. In the context Jesus is talking to His disciples about His second coming and if I’m being honest my usual treatment of this parable has been, “God wants us to be ready and waiting, got it” and then I’d move on. But as this parable has been brought up more recently it’s made me take another look.

In this parable (as well as the next one, the Parable of the Talents) there is a call to action. While a big part of what Jesus is demonstrating is that the disciples should be looking for His return an even bigger part of the parable is that they should be ready for His return. While I’ve noticed that call to action in the Parable of the Talents for some strange reason I’ve never paid attention to it in the Parable of the Ten Virgins.

Photo Credit: Arne Huckelheim

Photo Credit: Arne Huckelheim

Let me lay out a little context. The ten virgins mentioned here were essentially 1st century bride’s maids. At the beginning of the parable these young women are waiting at the bride’s house for the arrival of the groom (the wedding would typically take place at the bride’s house). This is obviously a night wedding because they bring lamps for the procession, which would take place after the wedding when the groom escorted the bride to his house accompanied by the bridal party.

So these bride’s maids are aware that they will need the lamps and what they will need them for. They are aware that they will need oil for these lamps. It is their responsibility to be prepared for the coming of the groom and the wedding procession. They might not know when the groom will come but they do know that he will come and that they need to be ready. Some act on this knowledge and others put it off. Jesus is making the point that there will be some who are ready for His return and others that will not.

But what does this have to do with us making Prodigal? While Jesus is applying this to the end times it also can teach us a little about our day to day roles as believers. You see God has given us specific responsibilities from the general ones like love your neighbor to the specific ones like our individual callings in life. But the fact is He has given us responsibilities. We never know when we may be called to act on them but we must be ready. We don’t know when we will be called to forgive rather than revenge, to love rather than hate, but we do know that when that moment comes God expects us to be ready. The same with Prodigal. We believe that God has called us to make this movie and we believe that He will provide the resources to do so. We don’t know when God will move but we do know that we must be ready with our lamps filled and trimmed. In the same way that a soldier, never knowing when he may be called into battle, stays ready by training, exercising, and caring for his equipment we must be ready to answer God’s call to arms by training with the word, doing what God has called us to do in the moment, and preparing for the mission He has laid before us.

I hope this encourages you to be ready for whatever God has in store for you! Remember waiting on the Lord is never passive. We are always to be about our Father’s work one way or another!