Yesterday, I attempted another half marathon, this time I was (a little) more prepared. I have been working out and running a little more than at my previous attempt. The race started well, I was watching my pace time so I could finish strong and things were looking up. I hit the 10K mark in 51 minutes and felt pretty good. The problem? I had another 10K to go and things began to go downhill very fast. It was at this point I reflected on this blog title, which I had been working in my mind for a while, and it occurred to me how well the story in Matt. 25 fit with my current situation.
Several years ago I was hosting a bridal shower luncheon and was impressed to study and share the story of the ten virgins -
The Parable of the Ten Virgins
1"At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The 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. 8The 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. 'Sir! Sir!' they said. 'Open the door for us!'
12"But he replied, 'I tell you the truth, I don't know you.'
13"Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
I had always read this from the standpoint that all the girls had prepared and took lamps with enough oil, but the bridegroom just took too long. In my mind I pictured the lamp looking like the lamp of a genie - which would hold quite a bit of oil. The girls really should not be at fault because "they" didn't prepare "enough". I came up with the great idea to order replicas of the oil lamps for party favors. They arrived and I open the box and thought "this isn't right, these are too small, these must be smaller version replicas." After a little more research I discovered that these tiny lamps were indeed actual size (approx. Height: 2.5cm Width: 6cm Length: 8.5cm) and then this parable had entirely new meaning. The foolish virgins DID NOT prepare, they were at fault, they did not think through the possible scenarios. They prepared half heartedly not really investing in the possibility of success. There is no way the amount of oil held by these lamps would last very long and the foolish virgins did not seem to think that it would matter. Boy, were they WRONG.
Similarly, I prepared half-heartedly for my race; my time was about 4 minutes slower than I was "ok" with and about 15 minutes slower than my ultimate goal. As I was running I began to think, "how can I expect to do well when I don't fully prepare?" Preparing halfway will never be good enough, in running or in life and especially in spiritual life. I am amazed at how often God puts the tangible lessons right in front of us so that we can have a better view of the intangible.
How often do I do a job thinking that's good enough, how often do I read the Word and just see the words on the paper and not ingest what they are saying, how often do I stop short of all that God is calling me to? As I learned (again) yesterday, I cannot run as far as I may need to if I do not prepare. I do not want to be like the foolish virgins who did not prepare to have their lamp oil last, I want to be able to run with endurance the course that is set before me - even when I do not how far the finish line is!
Time to Prepare - wanna join me?
Time to Prepare - wanna join me?
Jesus, Founder and Perfecter of Our Faith
1Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.