Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night and remembered something that you needed to do, but by the time the morning rolled around, you forgot it again? I tend to be a list maker, and I have been known to send an email to myself, scribble a barely legible to-do note in haste, or leave a voice message on my office phone to remind me of something: “Good morning, Self! Did you add money to the kids’ lunch accounts yet?”
If I don’t leave myself a reminder, then I may drop the ball, miss a deadline, get caught unprepared. Come to think of it, Jesus talked about a similar dilemma in Matthew 25. He told a parable of 10 friends who were tasked with the job of waiting up all night for a groom to arrive to his wedding party. Their job was to light the way for the groom, and they were expected to be prepared when he showed up. They each had an oil lamp, but only five of them thought to bring extra oil.
The groom was really late arriving … like midnight. In the meantime, the 10 friends had dozed off, and when they heard the groom was finally en route, they scrambled to get their lamps ready. Unfortunately, five of them were short on lamp oil and had to leave the reception line to go buy some. When the groom arrived, he invited the other five inside and locked the door. The others returned from the store and asked to be let in to the party but were turned away.
This story may sound like a harsh way for a newlywed to treat his friends, but Jesus is trying to make a point with it. He has already invited us to the party to end all parties – one that lasts through all eternity! – but he asks us to be prepared. Is there something keeping you from being totally committed to Christ? Like the five who forgot their lamp oil, are you hoping to be good enough or perhaps just wait until the eleventh hour to get things right with God? Not everyone has a deathbed on which to make a last-minute confession. Life is short. Be prepared; don’t delay.
(Originally posted April 15, 2012)