It was Thanksgiving Day and Raymond Banuelos of Phoenix, Arizona decided that the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving would be to go rock climbing. A lot of people do outdoor activities on Thanksgiving and rock climbing can be fun. The only problem was that Mr. Banuelos had come to the area to go hiking, not rock climbing, and his inspired climb to the summit of Camelback Canyon was made without any preparation and without proper materials. He got to a point where he couldn’t climb any higher up, and he saw no way to climb down. The only equipment he had was a cell phone that he had tucked into his underwear with which he was able to call 9-1-1. It took rescuers an hour and a half to reach him and get him to safety.
Mr. Banuelos said that this was “the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.” Ya think? He set off on a dangerous journey without any of the proper equipment and was extremely lucky to have survived. Jesus tells a parable of people who came into a situation unprepared. Ten virgins are getting ready for the bridegroom to come and pick them up for the wedding. Customs were different then. You didn’t know exactly when this was going to happen. Five of the virgins brought enough oil for their lamps. Five foolish ones decided that they couldn’t afford the time to make proper preparations, so they just headed out to the rendezvous point, excited about the upcoming wedding feast. Then, the bridegroom came in the middle of the night. The foolish ones were caught without any oil. “The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’” (Matthew 25:8)
As Jesus tells this parable He’s talking about the Kingdom of Heaven after a long discourse on the return of Christ. His message is very simple: be prepared for the end of the ages. The only way to do that is to have your life right with Jesus Christ. The foolish virgins got caught up in the hype leading up to the wedding, they waited with everyone else, but they hadn’t made the right preparations. They were hoping that the others would take care of them. In short, and I know this isn’t good theology, the foolish virgins want to appear before the heavenly gates with their friends and say, “I’m with them.” They want to depend on those who have made the preparations. That doesn’t work with God. Your parents may be followers of Jesus, you may be a member of a church and even show up to church a lot, you may even do a lot of good things, but if you don’t have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, you haven’t made the right preparations for the Kingdom of Heaven and you’ll be locked out when that time comes.
Let’s look at this a little differently, though, and think about our preparations for each day. Some kind of trouble will happen every day, that’s the way life is. Are you ready for that trouble? If you think you can handle things on your own, without God’s help, you’re not. We need God’s strength to get through every day. That’s why I read God’s word every day. That’s why I meditate and write about one small part of that reading. That’s why I spend time in prayer. Let me tell you that spending time in prayer is probably the hardest part of my day. It doesn’t seem to do any good immediately. Sometimes it seems like a waste of time. Then I realize that it draws me closer to God as I spend time with Him. It helps me think about more than just myself as I remember friends who are going through difficult times, or praise God for His blessings for their good fortune. Then I realize that when trouble comes, I can’t stop time to say my prayers. I realize how important it is to be prepared for the day, or should I say “pre-prayered.” Are you ready for Heaven? For today? Spend that time with God to be ready.
Lord, the day ahead has many troubles. Help me to be ready for the day. Help me be ready for the joys of Heaven as I focus on You each day.