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Checking the Batteries

Last week a nasty storm blew through Central Florida, knocking trees onto homes, separating limbs from trees, and leaving tens of thousands of homes without power. Ours was one of the homes that lost all electricity for several hours. As I arrived home with the children at around 8 pm, we were greeted by complete darkness from the streets and within our home. For me, this was a minor inconvenience; for the kids, it was a great adventure! Their excited energy was probably enough to light our whole neighborhood!!

As we entered the home through the front door (because the electric garage door wouldn't work), we used the light on my cell phone to find the matches, a match to find and light a candle, that first candle to light the others candles, and then to help me locate the flashlights.

As I searched through the garage and a couple of closets, I could locate four different flashlights – none of which worked. One had dead batteries (of course, they were the size batteries I didn't have on hand), one had burned-out bulbs, one was electrically powered, and one didn't want to work. We rarely use flashlights in our home, but when I needed them, none were in working order to perform the task they were created to do.

This incident reminds me of a problematic parable that Jesus tells in the scriptures. In Matthew 25 (click to read scripture), Jesus tells a story about ten bridesmaids who were waiting with the bride for the bridegroom to arrive. In Jewish tradition, once the groom arrived, he would collect his bride and lead her on a procession through the town, and it was a part of the ceremony that the bride didn't know when the groom would come. He finally arrives at midnight (in the dark), and only 5 of the bridesmaids are prepared to join the wonderful celebration because they didn't have enough oil for their lamps. It is a story about being prepared, and the need for us to be ready is of much great consequence than a power outage or a wedding; it is about us being prepared for the return of Jesus Christ.

In this parable, we are given insight into a few things that we can do to prepare:

-      Got Oil? While all the bridesmaids had the right tool (the oil lamp), only a few had what was needed to power the lamps. In Jewish tradition, oil was used to symbolize the anointing of God; after Pentecost, we celebrate that it is the Holy Spirit who anoints us. It may look like you have the tools to be prepared, but your lamp is futile unless you have the Holy Spirit's oil to fuel them.

-      Use Wisdom! It is always wise to prepare for the future, even when the future holds much uncertainty. The foolish bridesmaids are careless, shortsighted, and thoughtless. The wise are attentive, prepared, and thoughtful. These traits prepared them to either miss or enjoy the wedding. Which of these categories would you best fall into?

-      Be Prepared! When the bridegroom comes, half of the bridal party desperately tries to find a 7-11 where they can purchase some fuel. At this moment, they are caught up in a secular pursuit that causes them to miss the glorious arrival of the groom. Let's be prepared so that on the glorious day when Jesus returns, we will not be caught in some trivial pursuit that causes us to miss the main event.

-      Be disciplined, not desperate. How sad that the door was closed to those who weren't prepared and., even in their desperation, were not allowed to the party. The wisdom and character needed in the party take years to be produced; they can't be built out of desperation. To be late is always tragic. A Chinese proverb says, "The best time to plant a tree was ten years ago; the second best time is now." Start by being disciplined today.

Last week when the storm came, I had the right tools (the flashlights), but I was not prepared enough to know whether they were working correctly. Let us diligently prepare for that great and glorious day when Jesus returns.

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