Matthew 25:6-10 – But at midnight there was a cry, "Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him." Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, "Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out." But the wise answered, saying, "Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves." And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. (ESV)
I often work late here at the university. On one recent occasion, I had just been for a break, when I found a student failing in his attempt to access the rear doors to the computer suite. He, like many others before and probably since, had ignored all the signs giving the relevant information about limited timed access only through the back doors. This is for security reasons and prevents students using the room as a thoroughfare in the midst of lectures during the day.
It was then only 6:00 p.m.; hence the doors remained closed, because the time locks only come off for students later — at 6:30 p.m., which is the same time the lock on the main entrance doors closes them at the other end of the computer suite.
Now, I could have sent him back down the stairs and all the way around the building to the front doors, just to let the penny drop about reading notices, paying attention to the time, and compliance. Being a soft touch, however, I let him in with my staff access rights.
As I walked back to the office, I remembered how Jesus used the literary device of a parable about the wise and foolish virgins to challenge His audience about end times. He alone has the right to give access into the kingdom. He was no soft touch.
His challenge: were His listeners (or His readers today) ready, or not, to accept His invitation: either to come in now, or to find themselves excluded from the Saviour's kingdom? Final judgement will come suddenly when we least expect it!
For me, recently, being fine one day and then being unexpectedly rushed into hospital the next, makes me see this parable with a little more poignancy, whatever the possible day for the end of the world.
I want to be found ready — ready to meet with Jesus today — even if I am probably too soft!
Prayer: Lord, You are no soft touch. You love us deeply and profoundly, yet You have set Your limits. Forgive us our failings, and may we be prepared for Your call on our lives today. May we have enough of the light of Christ within us to share effectively with those You send us into the world to meet today in Jesus' name, for the time is short. Amen.