Our Lord’s parable of the ten virgins at Matthew 25:1-13 instructs us that preparation to meet our Lord is necessary; we may not simply sleep through life inattentive to God and expect to receive His salvation and blessings if we have made no effort to know who our Lord is and what He requires of us. The five foolish virgins of the parable lacked oil for their lamps — the anointing of the Spirit — to meet their bridegroom, and their five prudent counterparts brought oil for their lamps, and entered into the wedding feast with their bridegroom before he closed the door on the foolish virgins.
I just had a brush with the mortality of one of my closest friends. By God’s preserving grace, she pulled through, and the problem has been diagnosed and brought under control. But my initial response was to join the ranks of the foolish virgins, stubbornly determining to refuse to prepare for something God could conceivably require of me. I intended to refuse to prepare myself to be able to say, “…and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job could say such a thing, but I cannot, because I refuse to prepare myself to say such a thing, and I could never say such a thing without being prepared.
I know obstinance is very sinful, but I prefer to think that I am simply deficient. But of course I am not deficient at all. Christ’s sacrifice has healed my chronic deficiency and brought about everlasting sufficiency on my behalf. And because I have been given the gift of the oil for my lamp, and prudence comes with that oil, I will be prepared to say what I must say and do what I must do: a promise I easily forget I have received, when my thoughts turn to my own capacities.
There is no question that I have no desire ever to join in Job’s righteous resignation. I hate death — death is an outrage, and I look forward to seeing it cast into hell at the end of time. I hate pain, hospitals, and medical help gone bad. I despise my own insecurity at the very thought of such things impacting me or anyone I care about. But the illusion that I can do anything about any of it doesn’t stick, either.
Nobody wants to recite Job 1:21 in a moment of sorrowful loss because no one wants that moment ever to come; and no one theologically competent wants to recite anything else when the time does inevitably come. I have already experienced too recently how death exposes my own failure, my failure at being a sufficient friend. Not again, not now, please.
Jesus laid down His life for His friends. I couldn’t even lay down my routine for my friends. Lord have mercy on me, the sinner.