A few weeks ago, I invited some friends to our house for a party. Being the type of woman who wants everything to look just right for company, I spent the better part of three weeks preparing for the event. Yeah, I know, three weeks is a lot of time. No, it wasn’t because my house was so dirty that it took that long to clean. (Because even though I’m not the cleaning freak that I used to be, I still run a pretty tight ship and things are usually pretty tidy.) “If it wasn’t a cleaning problem, then what took three weeks to get ready?” Well, it was what I like to call my “Someday” list. You know—-the list of things that I know need to be done, but because I’m busy (or just don’t want to get to them) never seem to be finished. I acknowledge they need done but say, “Someday I’ll get around to doing it.” Over the past few years, this list had really stacked up! But now that company was coming—it was time to hit this list once and for all! And so I scrubbed, and painted, and put new shelf paper in the kitchen cabinets. We took down the light fixture that I can’t reach and gave it a good cleaning. I even replaced the worn out shower curtain! Realizing I was working against a deadline, I stopped ignoring the problem areas in my home, and started tackling those jobs one by one until the list was finished. As I was finishing up my projects, I started thinking about the word “preparation”. Specifically, I was thinking about the parable that Jesus told in Matthew 25: “God’s kingdom is like ten young virgins who took oil lamps and went out to greet the bridegroom. Five were silly and five were smart. The silly virgins took lamps, but no extra oil. The smart virgins took jars of oil to feed their lamps. The bridegroom didn’t show up when they expected him, and they all fell asleep.
In the middle of the night someone yelled out, ‘He’s here! The bride-groom’s here! Go out and greet him!’
The ten virgins got up and got their lamps ready. The silly virgins said to the smart ones, ‘Our lamps are going out; lend us some of your oil.’
They answered, ‘There might not be enough to go around; go buy your own.’
They did, but while they were out buying oil, the bridegroom arrived. When everyone who was there to greet him had gone into the wedding feast, the door was locked.
Much later, the other virgins, the silly ones, showed up and knocked on the door, saying, ‘Master, we’re here. Let us in.’
He answered, ‘Do I know you? I don’t think I know you.’
So stay alert. You have no idea when he might arrive."
(Matthew 25:1-13, the Message) In these verses, we see that like my story, the ten virgins were also planning for a party. However, unlike my party, there was no definite time set for their event to begin.
This led to a problem. While some virgins prepared and had enough oil in their lamps to sustain them during the wait, others did not. The result was that when the bridegroom came, they were unprepared to go with him and join in the celebration. Growing up in a Pentecostal church, I frequently heard this parable used to teach about a topic we don’t hear as much about today: the need to be prepared for the rapture (when Jesus returns to take his church to Heaven). Back then, the church was frequently encouraged to make sure that they were prepared—-to be ready—to stay away from sin and maintain a close relationship with Jesus so that when He returned you would not be left behind. Sometimes I wonder why we don’t hear much about this topic any more. Is it because the wait has been too long or do less people believe in this truth? Perhaps it’s because we’re all too busy with life to think about eternity. Whatever the reason, the principle of this parable remains the same: As followers of Jesus, we don’t want to be like the five virgins who were unprepared and were not ready to respond to the bridegroom’s call. Instead, as Christians, I believe we need to be in a mindset of constant preparedness—asking ourselves questions like, “If the rapture came today or even if I passed away today, would I be ready to stand before God and give an account of my life to Him?” “Of course I would!! Years ago I said the sinner’s prayer. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I even go to church!! Why would you even ask such a question?” Going back to the parable of the virgins, we have to recognize that all ten virgins believed the wedding would happen. They all believed in the bridegroom—they just weren’t all prepared to follow Him to the wedding. “Well, how do we prepare?” Here’s where it ties back into my monster house-cleaning marathon: I believe one of the keys to being prepared to meet Jesus in eternity or to follow Him wholeheartedly in this life is to stop ignoring our spiritual “someday” list. You know, the the list of sins that we know we need to overcome, but we’ll get to it…someday. The sin, the compromise, the disobedience, the lack of obedience to the Holy Spirit that we know is hindering our relationship with God, we know is keeping us from experiencing complete freedom in our lives. It's that thing that we know is sin, but we just don’t want to stop doing. We say “someday we’ll take it seriously, repent, and overcome”, but for today we tolerate it and ignore the conviction of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Well, I’d like to propose that it’s time for “Someday” to be “Today”. As Hebrews 3:15 says: “Today, when you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” Instead, just as my company motivated me to get to my “to-do someday” list, today, let the parable of the ten virgins motivate you to start doing something about your spiritual “to-do” list. Stop tolerating things that you know the Holy Spirit wants you to change in your life, and start preparing to wholeheartedly follow Jesus. Not just for the sake of your eternal destiny (although this is SO important) but also for the sake of your life right here and now. Because here’s a truth I firmly believe: How you respond to the conviction of the Holy Spirit in your life doesn’t just affect your eternity—-it also affects your ability to experience all that God has for you in this life and to complete the mission He has for you in the here and now.
A large part of following Jesus and finding your God-given passion, place, and purpose in life is choosing to obey God and tackle the areas in your life that the Holy Spirit calls you to address and overcome. When we tolerate sin, we keep ourselves from God’s blessings. When we choose to do all we can to overcome sin, we open the door for God to work in us and through us experiencing all that He has for us today, tomorrow and for eternity. So today, I ask you: Are you ready for the party? Are you ready to meet Jesus in eternity? Are you prepared to follow Him every day you have on earth? Do you have a spiritual “someday” list—a list of areas where the Holy Spirit is calling you to true repentance and change, but you are saying “someday?” Are you ready to make “someday” today? Today, if the Holy Spirit is pointing out an area in your life that needs to be addressed, I encourage you to respond. --Find a place where you can be alone with Him and repent of the sin or compromise in your life. --Then, ask Him to help you create a plan of action to stop sinning and stick to that plan. --Finally, do whatever it takes to overcome the area of sin in your life. Yes, it will take effort. It will take work. It will take determination and perhaps seeking the help of another believer, but I can promise you IT WILL BE WORTH IT. Are you read to say, like I did when I was looking around my cleaned-up house, “Why didn’t I get to this sooner?” Because I’ll guarantee you’ll say the same thing about your decision to put away sin and follow Jesus.