The Tragedy of the Unprepared Life

Synopsis of The Tragedy of the Unprepared Life

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We are about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from:

Matthew 25 : 1 “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of ten bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 The five who were foolish took no oil for their lamps, 4 but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5 When the bridegroom was delayed, they all lay down and slept. 6 At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and welcome him!’ 7 “All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8 Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the others replied, ‘We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ 10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11 Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Sir, open the door for us!’ 12 But he called back, ‘I don’t know you!’ 13 “So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of my return.”

There’s a true story that comes form the sinking of the Titanic. A frightened woman found her place in a lifeboat that was about to be lowered into the raging North Atlantic. She suddenly thought of something she needed, so she asked permission to return to her stateroom before they cast off. She was granted three minutes or they would leave without her. She ran across the deck that was already slanted at a dangerous angle. She raced through the gambling room with all the money that had rolled to one side, ankle deep. She came to her stateroom and quickly pushed a side her diamond rings and expensive bracelets and necklaces as she reached to the shelf above her bed and grabbed three small oranges. She quickly found her way back to the lifeboat and got in. Now that seems incredible because thirty minutes earlier she would not have chosen a crate of oranges over the smallest diamond. But death had boarded the Titanic.  Instantaneously, priceless things had become worthless. Worthless things had become priceless. And in that moment she preferred three small oranges to a crate of diamonds.

There are events in life, which have the power to transform the way we look at the world. Jesus’ parable about the ten virgins offers one of these types of events, for the parable is about the Second Coming of Christ. But Jesus doesn’t come right out and say this. Rather, he let’s the story describe it for him.

The woman on the sinking Titanic understood, in the light of her current circumstances, that she must make preparations for living on a lifeboat. Diamonds would not suffice, only the precious resources of an orange were good enough. Likewise, in this world where Christ may return at any moment, the parable warns, we must be ready. Jesus’ parable about a wedding, is told not from the vantage point of the bride and groom, but of the ten young maidens who had been invited to the happy occasion.

All of the young women had oil in their lamps, but five had an additional supply. What is this parable suggesting to us? I would like to make a few suggestions.

First, it is saying some things in life that cannot be borrowed. You and I cannot live on someone else’s oil. We can help one another in so many ways, but at some point we are on our own. This is especially true when it comes to faith. The road of the religious pilgrimage is a narrow one and can only be walked two at a time, you and God. Your parents cannot walk it for you or with you. Husbands cannot depend upon the devotion of their wives. I have had more than one husband laughingly say to me over the years: “My wife handles the religion in our family. What they really reveal, however, is how little they understand about faith.

Secondly, I think that the parable suggests that there are some things that cannot be put off until the last moment. Earthquake insurance is not something you can put off until the last moment. Diapers and wipes are not something you can put off until the last moment. In the 10 seconds it takes to make a tremendous mess, we have not the time to go the store, figure out the new size, color, and design, and get the proper quantity and dampness of wipes.Yet, it is amazing to me how so many of us fail to grasp this concept when it comes to life’s decisions.

Third, the parable suggests to us that, if we are not prepared, we can miss our great opportunities. The issue here is one of readiness when Christ returns. When God holds his grand celebration, will we be ready? When the foolish maidens arrived at the party, we are told: “The door was shut.” When I read these words I cannot help but think of the story of Noah and how he gathered his family into the ark. When the great flood came there were many who pounded on the door and begged to be let in, but the scripture says: “The door was shut.”

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