Being Ready

10_virgins_Parable1I’m off next week to speak at the Oregon Christian Writers Conference, and this week have spent a good amount of time getting ready. There were things to buy, things to run off, things to pack, things to arrange, things to plan. Not the least of all these are blog posts to schedule. Next week will be a line up of “pre-posted posts,” sort of like “pre-owned books” (instead of used books) or “pre-owned clothing” (instead of hand-me-downs). Hopefully they haven’t seen their best days and visitors here at A Christian Worldview Of Fiction can still get some use out of them.

All this fervent effort to get ready to go has made me mindful of Scriptural admonitions to Christians to be ready for Christ’s return.

Jesus Himself said, Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming” (Matt. 24:42).

Paul, in wrapping up his first letter to the church in Corinth, gave them some specifics connected with this charge: “Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:13-14).

To the Ephesians, Paul follows his great passage about putting on the armor of God to face the spiritual forces coming against us, with a similar reminder to be alert—spiritually watchful and ready: “With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints” (6:18)

So prayer is a critical part of being ready, it would seem.

Jesus illustrated the need to be ready by telling a couple stories. One was about ten maiden (virgin) attendants at a wedding.

Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.

Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’

Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’

And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.

Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’

But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’

Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour. (Matt. 25:1-13

As a child, I struggled with this story. I’d been taught the value of sharing and really thought the five ready virgins were being selfish. I didn’t understand that parables focus on only one teaching point, and here, Jesus wanted to illustrate the importance—the necessity—of being ready for His return.

But here’s what I’ve learned about getting ready. As my trip has drawn closer, my focus on the things I need to do has become more acute, to the point that today I spent the whole day doing one thing or the other as part of my preparation. Tomorrow will be the same, and I may even stay up later to get the last minute things taken care of.

I’ve also made lists so I don’t forget things.

But I have to ask, am I as diligent in preparing for Christ’s return? Or, because I don’t have a target date, do I let things slide, consider them not of first importance? Jesus seemed to be saying, Get ready before you do anything else. After all, the whole point and purpose of our existence is to be there for the Bridegroom. So why get distracted and neglect the thing for which we have been called?

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