Summary: The parable of the ten bridesmaids tells us: 1. You must be spiritually prepared. 2. No one can do it for you. 3. There is a day called "Too Late."
In April, 1988 the evening news reported on a photographer who was also a skydiver. He had jumped from a plane along with several other skydivers and filmed the group as they individually dove out of the plane and opened their parachutes. As the video was being shown of each member of the crew jumping out and then pulling their rip chord so that their parachute opened to the wind, the final skydiver opened his chute and then the picture went berserk. The announcer reported that the cameraman had fallen to his death, having jumped out of the plane without a parachute. It wasn’t until he reached for the ripcord that he realized he was free falling without a parachute. Up until then, he was enjoying himself and was absorbed in what he was doing. But tragically, he was unprepared for the jump. It did not matter how many times he had done it before or what skill he had. By forgetting the parachute he made a foolish and deadly mistake. Nothing could save him, because his faith was in a parachute which he had never taken the trouble to buckle on.
It is a story not unlike the parable which Jesus told about the foolish bridesmaids forgetting to bring something very important and necessary. He was not ready. He was unprepared. It would do no good to try and borrow a parachute of someone else on their way to meet the ground. He could not go back to the plane to retrieve it. He was not prepared and he passed the point of no return.
There are a few relevant points that this parable makes. The first is: You must be spiritually ready. If there is one thing that Jesus consistently and continually preached it was that we need to be ready. Over and over again we hear him say, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44).
We in this culture try to live for today as though there is no tomorrow. Our finances reflect this. The way we eat and treat our bodies reflect this. And certainly the moral lives of Americans reflect this. One of my great concerns for our country, and even within the church, is the great moral disconnect between personal faith and ethical /moral behavior. Many people within the church, as well as outside of it, seem to have lost their conscience, or the ability to respond to it. The whole message of Jesus’ warnings to be ready had to do with doing the right things. Being ready meant actively living in faithfulness to God. It is more than just calling yourself a Christian. It’s more than a name.
Dennis was a guy from Katy, Texas who had an emergency and needed his suit dry cleaned before he left on a trip. He remembered one store with a huge sign, “One-Hour Dry Cleaners.” It was on the other side of town, so he drove out of his way to drop off his suit. After the clerk filled out the necessary information, he told her, “I have some errands to run and I’ll be back in an hour to pick it up.” She said, “I can’t get this back to you until Thursday.” “I thought you did dry cleaning in an hour,” he said. “Oh, no,” she replied, “That’s just the name of the store, we don’t actually do that.” There are many folks today who wear a sign saying they are a Christian, but they fail to deliver the goods. There are many churches who do not deliver on what the sign out front says either.
If there is one thing I could get across to Christians here in America it would be this: Spiritual readiness, preparation and growth does not just happen. It comes as a result of intentional habits built into one’s life. You cannot depend on a Sunday morning service to provide all your spiritual needs. You cannot depend on Christian fellowship to provide you with spiritual development. It comes through routine habits and attention to ordinary spiritual disciplines — making sure you have enough oil: spiritual fuel. It comes by taking time for prayer and being alone with God; reading God’s Word; acts of service to others; moral faithfulness and loving obedience. It comes through spending time with other Christians for mutual prayer, study and encouragement. These are the things which enable a person to grow in Christ and be prepared for Christ’s coming, as well as the normal difficulties of life. Without these things you will not be prepared. It cannot be hit and miss. It cannot be postponed. You cannot procrastinate or it may be too late. You need to develop some holy habits in your life which take precedence over other interests and claims on your life. As these habits become developed, they cease to be a struggle and begin to be a source of strength and blessing. They make your life powerful against the onslaught of the world.