This morning I came across the parable of the ten virgins who went out to meet the bridegroom with their lamps (Matthew 25). Just five had the extra oil that would be needed; the other five brought just what they had on-hand in their lamps. Both sets of virgins were about the business of “going”—all wanted to be part of the wedding celebration. However, only five had enough oil to keep their lamps burning so that the bridegroom would find a light when he arrived to lead guests to the wedding party.
As I read the parable I was compelled to sit there for a while, to consider how I live each day. I usually set out with a “list” of things I purpose to do. I seek to start each day anew and live it fully—to start with time with God, to get my mind in tune with Him. Still, all-too-often I live my life in a way that lets each day, and my faithfulness in it, escape without the true fullness of living “as if I will face the Bridegroom today”.
It’s so easy to think of life as having a beginning date and an end date; we can see that on any gravestones at any cemetery: the birth date, a dash, the date the person left this life. Often I think of that end date as way off in the future. I live with eternity tucked up somewhere in my mind, where it just hazily influences my day-to-day living. But really, I often fail see the forest for the trees. And, in so doing, I face choices, opportunities and challenges in a way that really doesn’t reflect an appropriate sense of urgency.
Perhaps “urgency” isn’t the right way to express it. Maybe it’s more of a grand and thrilling expectation: of being ready for something more than just the ordinary, of truly living intentionally–with vibrancy—expectantly.
I liken it to this. While I keep a pretty decent house, if I know that I have someone special coming by to visit, I get this sudden burst of energy. Then, I can breeze through the house with the vacuum, dust cloth and broom with a peculiar energy above and beyond the usual. In this almost giddy state, dishes take half the time, a floor can be mopped in one magical moment, and I can plow through a stack of mail with the efficiency and skill of a surgeon! Most assuredly, there’s clearly a different approach to how I tackle mundane tasks when I know someone’s coming.
This morning, it struck me–I can drift into the camp of the five virgins who showed up with what they had in their lamps–business as usual. Yes, we all—both kinds of people—are looking forward to the Bridegroom. But I have to ask myself: Am I really ready with what I want to have in hand when the Bridegroom comes? Will I have lived in a way that my lamp will be lit? And I mean really shining bright! Or am I just living to see the Bridegroom on “business as usual” terms.
The time when I see my Lord face-to-face could be soon, maybe even today. It’s not just some obscure date, way off in the future, when I get old and finally run out of the vigor and ability to keep going; nor, at the end of some sort of struggle with any one of the various infirmities that we are all vulnerable to. Let’s face it; there are calamities that come out of nowhere. Do I even stop to consider that, any time, I may just get to see the clouds parted and fly up to meet Him in the air (I can hang on that thought all day!)
How would I face relationships and challenges and opportunities differently, if I kept a mindset that at any time I might be right there–with Jesus. With Jesus reflecting on who I have been that day, what I have focused on and what feet I have given to His good purposes and priorities. This perspective—of expecting and preparing for a Special Guest—gives me a new commitment and, yes, a new energy that I bring to my day.
I have my lamp lit today. And I’m ready to go, when it’s my time, if even, today. But have I gone above and beyond, living a life of vibrancy worthy of a Special Guest? Do I have that extra supply of oil? More than just what it takes to get by? Have I dusted around spiritually, with the vitality that God wants to infuse into my relationships and hopes and dreams, that readies me to meet the Bridegoom with more than just a lamp. But with a lamp—any time, any day—that’s burning brightly!