These past couple of months have really brought me to a place of realization for the need of refocus as it relates to my wait for God’s return. My heart doesn’t long for Jesus alone like it used to. It is crazy how deep my depravity runs, even after the powerful and lasting saving work of Jesus Christ. Not to mention, the earthly blessings and joy that have been given to me.
I was praying this morning and went to read the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25. As I was reading the story I could just see these girls waiting for the bridegroom to come. Knowing the Jewish customs, they had been planning and prepping for a while at this point. I can feel their angst and excitement all wrapped up into one. And then, the announcement the bridegroom is on his way! I am sure there were a few hot messes running around full of excitement:) But, five of the women ran out of oil so they had to run to the market to get more. What a shame because in the meantime the bridegroom came and escorted the women with burning lamps to the marriage feast. Can’t you just see it? The most amazing feast you have been to- great music, amazing food, wine to die for. The event you had been planning for months. All your friends and family in one place. This bridegroom and this event is the fulfillment of the one thing you were made for. You had been waiting for this moment your entire life. When the foolish women returned they were locked out and not allowed in.
This parable is a foreshadow of Christ’s return to earth. We are waiting on earth for Jesus to come and bring us into the marriage feast. We are called to watch and wait for that event. This is not a work that can be done on our own. God exposes us to the truth that we are depraved and wicked and need something to save us. If we want to follow the ways of Jesus and unite with God we can’t be depraved and wicked. We need a remedy that will make us perfect because a holy God isn’t able to unite with the imperfect. And we are imperfect. But God, RICH in creativity and care decided to come to earth as a man named Jesus. While He was on earth he told people about the history of God and showed the people how everything they heard was going to happen was happening right before their eyes. You see, they were right in the middle of their imperfections. They felt the sting of life and they were told from the time they were little that there would be a man that would cross their path that would lead them to the place of perfection and fulfillment that they were looking for. And finally, he came! It was a surprise to
many all. But, there was a catch. He told them that if they wanted to be perfect he would have to represent all of their imperfections before God. So….He did. The way he did that was by proclaiming this truth to all those around him. This ended badly for him because it lead him to a public trail and they chose to sentence him to death. The public officials thought he was trying to become a king and turn the government upside down. But the most amazing thing is that the outcome of this trial, His death, was a part of God’s plan. As Christ died he was representing all of humanity before God and God promised that if Jesus died as that representative, all of our imperfections would die with him. There was also a part of the deal that when Christ died he would raise from the dead three days later to complete and verify all He said and did. And…HE DID! Inside of that promise is the promise that if we believe and profess Jesus in His life, death and resurrection we too can enter under his umbrella of perfection. You see, as Christ died as a representative for our imperfections….all of our imperfections died too. It is hard to understand because we still very much operate in imperfections. But, the cool thing is that God can’t see them because He only sees us through the lens of Christ, who is perfect. As you are reading this Christ is sitting at the right hand of God praying for you and reminding God that you are an heir of the heritage and gifts that came under the umbrella of Christ’s death and resurrection! Clear as mud?
I am so thankful for the Lord’s creativity and care. The oil in my lamp will always be sustained through the power and work of Jesus Christ on the cross and then His ressurection. I won’t be locked out of the wedding supper. BUT, I want to be on watch and I don’t want to be asleep when the Lord returns or when he blesses. I want to be hopeful. I want to be full of confidence.
And to be honest, right now, I feel like the hot mess that was the foolish woman. I feel weary from long standing prayers that continue to receive a “wait.” I begin to fear that my hope will be put to shame. Even in my optimism there is a distant cry of disappointment and a feeling of being unsatisfied. I don’t want to feel any of that- I want to be confident and trust God’s character.
I think I need to get back into the habit of fasting. I want to fast and pray for the ‘oil.’ The sustaining power to wait and watch well. I want to ask regularly for the return of Christ and I want to be sustained by living on the righteousness of Christ for this momentary life. I want to operate in the fullness of the heritage that I have been given as an heir of Christ. I want to be taken away to the marriage feast that is already here but yet to come!
I know that in all my waiting- for God’s return or for the good, yet perishing, earthly gifts- that I won’t be put to shame (Ps. 25:3). As Andrew Murray states in Waiting on God, Day 6, “With all these, it is nothing but that they have not yet learned the secret of full waiting upon God. They just need, what we all need, the living assurance that waiting on God can never be in vain. Let us remember all who are in danger of fainting or being weary, and all unite in the cry, “Let none that wait on Thee be ashamed!”
I will not be put to shame. Do I believe it? Do you believe it?
This doesn’t mean ‘X’ will happen or ‘Y’ will come to pass. But I can rest assured that God’s good will is towards me and out of jealousy He is delighted to pursue a relationship with me. He works all things for my good because I love Him. To the believer, these words are not just hyperbole. Nor are they mechanical sedatives to get us through each day. These are promises that come from Jesus Christ himself that you can see when you read through his historical life.
These promises are the oil that keep my lamp going. The sustenance that satisfies my groaning. The power that gets me out of bed each morning when it feels like I am in the Groundhog Day movie. It’s the energy to finish a work project I have been dreading for months. It is the quiet joy in my soul when I don’t get a call back after a date. It is the clear vision for my life when the steps right in front of me are blurry. It’s the comfort and security when the closest family members are four, six and ten hours away. It’s the peace that rushes over me when anxiety plagues because of long to do lists. It’s the wisdom that comes in the midst of tight finances.
I have a feeling I am not alone. There are a multitude of waiting ones, as Andrew Murray states, who need prayer. How many of you are sick? Are you weary and alone? Are
many all of your prayers hitting the proverbial ceiling? Do you feel disappointed in the outcome of your labor? Do you feel like you lack power or that blessing is passing you by? Are you lacking rest and peace- fellowship and strength?
Andrew Murray puts a really cool spin. He encourages the waiting ones to pray for the waiting ones. He says that all true seeking of God and His love for ourselves, will be insuperably linked with the thought and the love of our brethren in prayer for them. He says to take heart because there are more praying for you than you realize. Let it stir us and them in our waiting to make a point of it at times forgetting ourselves, and to enlarge our hearts and say to the Father, “These all wait upon Thee, and Thou gives them their meat in due season.”
Wow….that brought me so much hope! In the last four months I have felt the body of Christ through prayer more than ever before. I am also regularly encourage as I meet with several people to pray with regularly. It has really been so sustaining! As November is here and we are settling in for the winter it is easy to look at the seasons of life change. It is easy to feel death and depravity in our own life. BUT GOD! Even when we think things are hopeless there is a glimmer of hope for life that has yet to rise above the surface. The plans that God has to prosper and give us hope. There are plans that have yet to be revealed. There is a Savior on His way to unite us with God for all eternity!
To end, I have a visual that God has used to prep me for these truths. As I have noticed the changing of the season with our garden at the house I can see that everything is on it’s last leg. I even thought all of my summer flowers were already dead. BUT, I have noticed that one of the flowers had the potential to bud. And guess what…it did this week! I thought that was a great picture of hope and the ongoing work of God on our behalf…especially through the saints!
“Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord. Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Let none that wait on the Lord be ashamed; no, not one. Some are weary, and the time of waiting appears long. And some are feeble, and scarcely know how to wait. And some are so entangled in the effort of their prayers and their work, they think that they can find no time to wait continually. Father, teach us all how to wait Teach us to think of each other, and pray for each other. Teach us to think of Thee, the God of all wiring ones. Father! Let non that wait on you be ashamed! For Jesus’ sake, Amen.”