Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – November 21, 2020
Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept. Matthew 25:1-5 (NRSV)
In Matthew 25, Jesus tells a story about a wedding feast that doesn’t go according to plan. Preparations have been made, the bride and her servants are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the groom, which in the ancient world would signal the beginning of the feast as he led his bride and her attendants joyfully back to his home. Yet, the groom is nowhere to be found, and therefore at the heart of this story lies a question: how should the servants respond when the groom is delayed? By extension, what do you do when things do not go the way you want or expect?
I’ve heard it said that one of the greatest causes of frustration and exhaustion in the Christian life is unmet expectations. We think and are convinced God will do one thing, and when he doesn’t, we’re left disoriented and even bitter, unable to understand why things did not go according to plan. This unmet expectation can be so profound that we stop looking for Christ, the groom, altogether.
As this story unfolds, this is precisely what we find. Half of the servants remained attentive and prepared, trusting that the groom would eventually arrive, and when he did, they were ready. The other half, perhaps jaded and angered by his delay, stopped looking and stopped preparing, assuming that, if needed, they could rely on the preparations of others. It is this last temptation that I find to be remarkably relevant for our particular time and place in history.
We have greater access to Christian resources and books than any generation that has ever lived. There are likely dozens of faithful Christian communities within just a few miles of your home. And yet, it is possible to go your entire life surrounded by faithful Christians and even be greatly familiar with the Christian life, and yet at the end have Christ himself say “I do not know you” (Matthew 25:12).
Do not neglect the call of God upon your life. Do not let the momentary burdens and challenges of life lull you to sleep and leave you unprepared for the groom’s arrival. Keep your lamps burning in expectation of the one who brings peace, joy and forgiveness.
For, “In just a little while, he who is coming will come and will not delay” (Hebrews 10:37).
Father, even in our weariness or exhaustion, we long to see you and be prepared at your arrival. Give us the courage to continue to wait with hearts filled with faith and trust in your goodness and love. Amen.
Consider praying this week with a lit candle or oil lamp as a sign of an attentive and expectant life.
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