I texted the friend who had called us for help. We’re at the gas station, now.
My husband filled the red plastic container designed for transporting fuel. He placed the gas can into the trunk and slid behind the steering wheel. “It’s hot out there.”
I handed him a water bottle and smiled. “You look good saving the day with a small kind deed.”
He shook his head and grinned. “Just let her know we’re on our way.”
My fingers flitted across the smooth screen of my cellphone. Be there in ten minutes.
We found the stranded family and pulled up to the curb behind their stalled SUV. Shadows of three restless kids climbed back and forth over the seats.
Thank goodness she decided to travel the back roads that afternoon.
I passed out bottled water and snacks, as my husband poured gas into the empty tank.
Sweaty kids chugged down their drinks.
The rescued mom showered us with thanks. “Sorry about the inconvenience,” she said. “I didn’t notice the gauge until the light came on.”
Wouldn’t life be easier if we didn’t wait until the last minute to fill our tanks?
I smiled. The consequences of running on empty in a car weren’t too different from neglecting to fuel up spiritually.
In the Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (Matthew 25:1-13), the ten virgins demonstrated the eternal consequences of running out of a different kind of fuel.
Jesus said the ten bridesmaids “took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom” (v. 1). Only five of the bridesmaids stocked up on oil. They brought enough extra fuel to keep their lamps burning until the bridegroom arrived.
The announcement of the bridegroom came late in the night. The ten bridesmaids readied their lamps, but the foolish five realized their supply wouldn’t suffice. They begged the wise five to share their oil. The wise five responded with solid boundaries (v. 9). I imagine eyebrows raised, pointing fingers wagging, and a quick retort, “I don’t think so. The bridegroom told us to be ready.”
My immediate response revealed remnants of my past codependence. Why wouldn’t they share their oil? Why wouldn’t they extend grace to the frantic five? Are you going to let them get away with that, Jesus?
The disciples might have expected the Lord to rebuke the oil-hoarders, too. But the Lord referred to those bridesmaids as wise.
While the foolish bridesmaids scrambled to buy more oil, the bridegroom arrived. The procession began and the bridegroom welcomed the wise five into the wedding banquet.
When the five foolish laggards finally returned, a closed door greeted them. “‘Sir! Sir!,’ they said. ‘Open the door for us” (v. 10).
Why wouldn’t these ladies expect a compassionate and merciful response? Surely, the bridegroom would be good. Surely, he would understand the five foolish bridesmaids needed grace.
Just cut me some slack, Lord. Again.
I didn’t want to admit how often I’ve excused myself as an E.G.R. (Extra Grace Required) when it came to facing the pain caused by my own procrastination and lack of preparation.
God knows my weaknesses. He knows my struggles. I’m flesh. I’m busy. I’m only human.
In His sovereign goodness, though, Jesus doesn’t extend a codependent, enabling kind of grace. Rather, He stands firm in love, proving how grace often works hand-in-hand with accountability.
Jesus ends the parable with a tough-love reality check, challenging His hearers with worldview-altering truth.
“‘But [the bridegroom] replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you’” (v. 12).
I don’t know you? How can that be?
All ten of the bridesmaids received a personal invitation to the wedding banquet. All ten understood the required preparations. All ten rested and eagerly awaited the return of the bridegroom.
The difference glared in the foolish five’s failure to prepare, not the opportunities offered by the bridegroom.
My friend needed gas in her tank to keep her vehicle running. The bridesmaids needed oil to keep their lamps lit.
In a similar way, as Christians live as lights in this dark world, we need a full tank to last until the Second Coming of our Bridegroom, Christ. But what does our necessary fuel consist of?
Our fuel is God, Himself.
To fuel up, we need to:
F: Feed on God’s Word daily, knowing His whole story from Genesis to Revelation.
U: Utter praises to God in all circumstances.
E: Embrace the power of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells in those who receive Christ as Lord.
L: Love God and others, in word and deed, until Christ returns or calls us home.
We can’t run on an empty spiritual tank or persevere on the fuel someone else generates. We certainly can’t count on others to be prepared for us.
God provides ample opportunities, every single day, for us to choose stillness in His presence. When we fuel up spiritually, on a regular basis, we’ll reflect the Light of Christ in our day-to-day living, eager and prepared the Bridegroom’s Second Coming.
Those who choose to remain unprepared will be greeted by a closed-door and these words whispered by a heartbroken Savior, “I don’t know you.”
What could you give up, or rearrange in your schedule, so that you can spend time with Jesus and fill your spiritual tank with His Word every day, starting today?