My personality is quite a mixture. On the one hand I love to be prepared, and can find it quite uncomfortable if I don’t know that I have everything I’ll need for where I’m going, or know the way, or how long it’ll take me to get there, or even an alternative route should things go wrong. I like to be organised, structured, know what’s coming next. I enjoy knowing how a task is going and how much more I will have to do before I complete it.
On the other hand, some of my favourite memories are of times when things happened on the spur of the moment, when I was caught out and yet things still turned out well. There’s something deeply satisfying about those kind of experiences for me. Usually they work out well because, at some point in the past, I’ve gained the knowledge or experience I need to deal with what arises. There are very few times when, faced with a brand new set of circumstances or a problem, I get it right first time, and certainly not on my own.
I’ve always found today’s parable difficult. It’s another story of Jesus at his bluntest and starkest. Reading it again today, I’m left thinking that the five wise virgins were prepared. They didn’t quite know what was to come when they met their bridegroom, but they had been making ready. They’d been given oil and had kept it stocked up, so it didn’t run out. The foolish virgins on the other hand, so the story goes, had let their lamps go out, and they found that they could not rely on the light of the lamps of others to help them find their way.
We need a life, a faith of our own. We can learn from others. We can gain a lot from one another. Life is done better together, in community, as part of a Church, but God has oil that he wants to give to you, and for your ongoing relationship with him, personally to top up. Don’t leave it to others to have all the oil. There is some for you too.