“Therefore, keep alert, because you don’t know the day or the hour.” Matthew 25:13 (NRSV)
Jesus told the parable of the wise and foolish bridesmaids who waited for the bridegroom to arrive at the wedding. Five of them came with extra oil and the other five had only the oil in their lamps. When they heard the announcement that the bridegroom had arrived, the five with the oil were prepared, but the five without extra oil had to go buy more.
This reminded me of my childhood years in Girl Scouts when we had the motto “Be Prepared.” There are times, as a pastor, that I totally understand how important it is to think ahead and be prepared for anything that comes along. Like the Girl Scouts (and the Boy Scout, too), being prepared means that we won’t get caught without supplies, resources, or other things that we really need when something comes along to change our course.
Life would be so much easier if we could just have plans in place to prepare ourselves for the twists and turns we are handed! But life isn’t like that. We may have carefully laid out our plans and everything is in place when we receive a phone call that throws us into a whole new set of unplanned events. Or we may receive a diagnosis of an illness that leaves us uncertain of our future or having to make new plans.
I think of my mom as we approach the one year anniversary of her death this coming February. She never would have anticipated having Alzheimer’s Disease or going into a nursing facility. Her vision and hope for her future would have been to live longer and enjoy many more years with my dad. Dad always figure that he would die before Mom, but it didn’t work out that way.
Yet, even in her lack of ability to comprehend or even put full sentences together toward the end of her life, my Mom WAS prepared because she had spent her life worshiping God and believing in her Savior whom she knew would take her to her heavenly home some day. There was never doubt about that for Mom – another of the many gifts she gave me in her witness to her faith.
Living every day as if it is your last is hard to do, but that is what I think Jesus is trying to get across to us in this parable (at least one of the ideas about which he is talking). We just don’t know when a loved one will suddenly die or be struck down with a devastating illness; we don’t know when WE will meet our Maker face to face. Being prepared and living our lives without regrets means valuing others and ourselves by letting them know every day how much we care about them and love them. It means taking care of ourselves, witnessing to our faith, seeing the face of Christ on others, and bringing the love of God to the world wherever our world may be.
Be prepared – we don’t know the day or the hour. Be prepared!