STORIES OF READINESS
“Put on your shoes!” “I told you an hour ago we were going!”
“NOW!” “What?” “You can’t find your shoes?” “Put on whatever you find!”
“I don’t care if they don’t match!” “We’re leaving now, with shoes or without!”
Does this sound like a scenario in your home with kids? Randy and I lived through this every time we rounded up our three kids to go out the door to anywhere. Years later, we caught ourselves saying the same things to our grandkids, helping them to find their shoes, too.
It’s a relentless cycle of conversation that has to do with being ready when it’s time to go. Jesus tells a different, but similar story about being ready when He comes back. Will we be ready, clothes and shoes on, our lights shining brightly for Him?
Or will we, like our kids, be caught without the shoes of readiness?
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
WHAT DO WE LEARN?
Be ready, “you do not know the day or the hour”. Just be ready whenever Jesus comes back for His bride, the “whoever believers”, who live their lives in readiness for his return. It all begins with the most important relationship in life, for life. It begins with God. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
HOW CAN WE BE READY?
Be ready to daily give ourselves to God as worship of God alone. “Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” Romans 12:1-2, The Message
Be ready to allow God to grow His character in us as He abides with us because of the relationship we began by accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord. “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.” Romans 12, The Message It’s a process that is counterculture to world thinking: “Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
Be ready to love God completely. We love God first because HE first loved us. He gave us His Son to pay our debt of sin. We love God because He gave us life. We never forget the love of God or Christ who lives in us. We allow love to grow to maturity, forgetting ourselves, looking outside ourselves to the interest of others. (See Philippians 2 and 1 John 4:19)
Be ready to live gratefully knowing God’s grace. “Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.” Romans 12, The Message
Be ready to love and serve each other as Christ loved and served. Since Jesus came “to serve, not to be served”, we serve with the same attitude of His pure love for us. Each person who believes becomes part of the Body of Christ. God gives us gifts and abilities to us to serve like Jesus. Our service to God and to each other is all done in the Name of Jesus for God’s glory. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13). Read the whole chapter! Jesus said this after bending down to wash His disciples dusty, dirty feet, as a servant would for anyone entering the house of his master. Yes, love like that. “Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around. The body we’re talking about is Christ’s body of chosen people. Each of us finds our meaning and function as a part of his body.” Romans 12, The Message
Be ready to be who you are, not who you are not. “So since we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”
“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.” Romans 12, The Message
Be ready with stamina for the long journey. “Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.” Romans 12
Be ready to bless your enemies! “Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.” Romans 12
Be ready for God to take care of what only He can do. “Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”” Romans 12
Be ready for evil to tempt you to do the opposite of what God wants. “Our Scriptures tell us that if you see your enemy hungry, go buy that person lunch, or if he’s thirsty, get him a drink. Your generosity will surprise him with goodness. Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.” Romans 12.
GOT YOUR SHOES ON?
ARE YOU READY TO GO WHEN JESUS COMES FOR US?
It’s actually not the oil for our lamps or the shoes on our feet that He is coming for, instead it is our very souls who love God with all our hearts, all our minds and all our souls.
In Jesus Name, Amen