Expecting And Preparing
By Don MacIntyre
The Bible talks about ten virgins. Five were wise, five were foolish. The wise were prepared for the coming of the bridegroom. They were not slothful, nor did they treat lightly his soon return. They were diligent and worked, preparing enough oil for their lamps and as much extra as they were able to put aside.
The five foolish were not so. They knew he was coming. They had oil in their lamps but they did not want to do the extra labor required to have lots and lots of oil. They were happy with what they had and did not think it necessary to go so far as their five wise sisters.
But the groom tarried! The five foolish had not counted on that. Their lamps went out! True, they came suddenly to their senses, and became sober and quite earnest about their lack, but their last minute efforts to get what they needed were too little, too late. While they were out, the long-awaited one returned unexpectedly, like “a thief in the night” and closed the door behind him. Only the five prepared virgins were kept. The unprepared were locked out!
Exhortation to Preparation
Listen to the words of the Apostle Peter and see how his words vibrate with “preparation.”
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Pet. 3:9-14).
Does that not ring with exhortation to prepare, diligently prepare, that we may be found in peace, without spot, and blameless?
Are You Preparing?
Are you getting prepared for this greatest of all events? Have you been seeking God daily for Him to prepare you, purify you, cleanse you from every spot, every blameful thing, to fill you with His Spirit and cause His own fruit to blossom in your life? Are you putting off the things of this very temporary world and taking hold of the things of heaven, eternal things?
If your soul is being prepared to go to heaven, if that is where your heart is, then the things of Christ will increasingly become more important to you, gaining more and more of your attention, more of your time, more of your energy, and more of your efforts and thoughts. Whereas the things of this world, the allurements, entertainments, and earthly distractions will be fading and seem unimportant, even trivial.
Those are the signs of a people being prepared. Their prayer life will be gaining in intensity. The time alone with Jesus their Savior will be time cherished, time longed for, time jealously guarded. God’s Book will have replaced other books. Time spent in study will be refreshing, strengthening, and leading them on to greater knowledge of Christ and deeper understanding of their own needs. The Bible will be alive. It will seem to permeate their mind, teaching them and encouraging them and changing them each day, preparing them.
There is no mistaking the prepared ones. Their hearts are full of God. They are just as full of yearning for God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon this world to bring in the harvest of souls. Their prayers are full of names of loved ones, acquaintances, fellow workers and neighbors who still do not know God. They call for mercy upon these names, that the God of heaven would prepare them too for His great kingdom.
God is preparing His bride, the church of God, for her marriage!
Let us each be honest with ourselves and carefully, prayerfully, search our present life. We may have had an experience with God at one time in the past, but let us not look backward. Let us look at today, right now, as you read this. Do you feel the hand of God upon you as the lump of clay feels the hand of the Potter shaping, working, changing, molding you into someone very different from what you used to be, someone more and more like Christ?
Do you feel closer to Him each day? Are the things of God – prayer, His Book and service to humanity – becoming more important to you? Do the things of this world fade more each day? Be honest. Search and see.
If you should find that in all sincerity you do not feel like someone being prepared, do not despair, for God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and life and faith. Start there where God starts. Start at repentance. Repent of any laziness on your part. Repent of your lack of urgency about your soul and heaven. Make straight paths for your feet. Ask God in all the earnestness you can, to purify you and prepare you, to expose to you by His Word your faults, your lacks, your errors. Most of all ask Him to cleanse you of them and make you more like Christ every day.
Get your heart clean. Ask Him to make you a fitting vessel for His temple, a home prepared for His Spirit. Keep at it. Take time, make time and be diligent about it as Paul was. He said, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). He pressed onward, “looking for that blessed hope, and glorious appearing of the great God, and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:13-14).
To Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we could hope or ask or think (Eph. 3:20), I commend you and yours. Amen.