“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 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 ones, 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: 1 – 6
The scene here is a wedding, the kind of wedding that Jesus attended in Cana early in his ministry, where the festivities could go on for days. The party is at the bride’s house, and the groom has been delayed. When I was getting prepared for my wedding, the phone rang, and it was my fiancé saying that he had been delayed. Something in my heart just sank – I thought ‘will he come? Has he got cold feet? Will this wedding, this longed for event, actually happen?’ So the bridesmaids at this wedding were waiting and waiting for the groom to arrive and the party to start, some of them prepared and expectant, with everything they needed, while others were bored and convinced he wouldn’t come, so they didn’t bother to prepare. They were sleepy and drowsing when the watcher shouted out – ‘he’s here!’.
We’re all sleepy and drowsing, but some of us have become convinced that the bridegroom isn’t coming at all, so we’re not prepared. We long for it, but we have given in to that terrible sinking feeling that the longed-for event won’t happen. It will be a surprise to all of us, but preparation is a matter of living our lives in the trust that it will happen, he will come, even if we feel sleepy and discouraged, even if it’s taking a long time, even if day after day is the same.
Prayer: Lord, help me to live my life trusting in your return. Give me the discipline and persistence to live by faith and not to give in to the discouragement that lurks round each corner. My own resources aren’t enough, but you are God and all mercy and grace are yours. You don’t ask me to live in my own strength, off my own resources, and I will trust you every day for the gift of grace to follow you and prepare for your coming. Amen
Action: think about ways in which you’d live differently if you knew Jesus was coming back tomorrow. Should you do some of these things now, so that you’re prepared?