The question, are you ready or prepared has been asked many, many times to people everywhere. I can remember being asked that just about every morning as I was getting ready for school. There were 6 of us that had to be ready at a certain time so that we were out at the end of the driveway waiting for the bus. I am sure my mom got tired of asking that question so many times every morning there was school. We lived 13 miles out of town, Mom had worked swing shift, Dad was already at work, so I am sure the last thing she wanted to do was drive us to school because we weren’t ready and we missed the bus. Of course, there was the have you finished your homework, are you ready for classes tomorrow questions as well.
One of the benefits and challenges of living where we do is the change in the weather as we move from one season to another. We usually have an idea of when the seasons will change but sometimes we are surprised. How many of you were ready for the cold snap and snow that we had a couple of weeks ago? Did you have things put away; were the sprinklers blown out, the outside faucets turned off? Cecil, next door, is a boat mechanic. So fall arrives and with that means winter is on its way. People start bringing him boats to be winterized so the engines don’t freeze. George and Cecil both tell their customers to make sure their boats are brought to Cecil before it gets too cold and it starts freezing at night. However, there seems to always be a few people who push the envelope getting their boat to Cecil. This year there were 2 customers in particular who did just that. The first person brought their boat with a huge chunk of ice on the floor of the boat. Cecil was sure the engine was just as frozen as that chunk of ice but fortunately it wasn’t. That person was very lucky. The other customer brought their boat with everything that had been piled inside frozen to the floor. Again Cecil was sure the engine would be frozen as well and this time he was correct. It may cost this customer around $4000.00 to get a new engine put in his boat so he can use it next summer. Ouch! That was an expensive mistake. He definitely wasn’t prepared for the change of the weather.
The scripture that I read is a parable showing the need or necessity to be prepared for whatever comes next. The 10 bridesmaids were asked to carry the lamps to light the way for the bridegroom as he went to the wedding banquet that was going to happen. They were all where they were supposed to be with their lamps ready to do the honor that they had been given whenever it was time. Now 5 of the bridesmaids had their lamps and they also had a flask of oil for the lamps just in case. 5 of the bridesmaids had their lamps but they didn’t have that extra flask of oil. The groom was delayed. They all became drowsy and slept until they heard the shout that the bridegroom was coming and you need to come out and greet him. The bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The lamps of the 5 bridesmaids who didn’t have extra oil started to flicker and go out. They asked the other 5 bridesmaids to give them some of their oil but the 5 with the oil said no because then they wouldn’t have enough oil to keep their lamps burning on the journey to the wedding banquet. If they did share their oil then most likely all 10 lamps would burn out and there would be no light to lead the way to the wedding banquet. The 5 without extra oil were forced to go get more oil and while they were gone, the bridegroom came and he and the 5 with working lamps went on to the wedding banquet. By the time the 5 got back with oil, the rest were at the banquet and the doors were closed. When they asked for the doors to be opened they were told that the bridegroom didn’t know them and they lost out on being part of the wedding party. They hadn’t been prepared and now they lost the honor of being part of the wedding banquet. The last sentence of the scripture said; “Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Not only do we need to be prepared for whatever is coming next, be it the school bus or the test in history, or the weather changing, we also need to be ready for whatever can happen in our lives. Some sad news I received this past week is unfortunately, a perfect example of not expecting the biggest unknown in our lives. My sister Robin emailed to tell me that her husband Gary’s nephew had suddenly passed away. He was 50 years old and was in his car with his 2 kids getting ready to drive them to school. They think he had a major stroke. The kids had to go to the neighbors to get help and efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. In an instant he was gone. Most likely, given his age, this was a big surprise and things hadn’t been done to make sure his family was taken care of. But how many of us are ready if something sudden happened to us and we passed away? I think unless we have a terminal illness or we are older in age so we know that at some time it is more likely that we could pass away, most people aren’t prepared to die. We don’t have everything in order, laid out so that our family knows what to do next. It most likely isn’t something that we think about every day, but like the last sentence of the scripture said, you know neither the day nor the hour. We should have everything in order so that when the time comes, things are taken care of.
More important than having our affairs in order, we need to think about how we are living our lives and asking ourselves are we living our lives as God would have us live them? What do we need to do so that when the time comes for us to pass on; we are ready in His eyes to make the transition from earth to heaven?
Like it said in the children’s message, we need to be ready to do the right thing. We never know when we will be asked to do important work for God, but when those times come, and we see chances to be helpful, or kind, or honest, we need to be ready to take them.
I think we really need to remember the most important commandment; which is to love God with all our hearts, our minds, and our souls and next we need to love our neighbors as ourselves. We need to remember to be humble and to go about our way doing the work that God would have us do by doing that work as Jesus did, with humility and grace. In our day to day routine, those things need to be forefront in our minds. If they are then we will be doing what we should be doing and when it is our time, we are ready.
So be ready for that meeting, that appointment coming up, the ground to freeze, the snow to come, and so on, but most importantly be ready to take that next step in your journey whenever it may come. Amen.