The waiting

It’s been a strange few days in Hawaii. We are all on alert for Hurricane Lane. What started out as a category 5 hurricane, very slowly has been downgraded to a category 3 storm. It is expected to be a category 1 before it swipes past Oahu and merely a tropical storm as it passes Kauai.

Everyone is consumed with preparation. The media has been hyper-vigilant, making sure we are all aware of the potential threat. It makes me wonder how much is an attempt at keeping viewers tuned in. Because of the slowing of the storm (it’s creeping at just 2 mph), the media is having to create content to stay on the air. It’s excruciating to watch.

Even though this is not my first hurricane event, I am reminded of the lessons that preparation brings. You rush around, fight the traffic, get into the stores and try to anticipate what you’ll need. You grab the basics. At home, you rush to get the yard clear of anything that may take flight. And then you wait.

Jesus spoke of preparation regarding his return in Matthew, chapters 24-25. Let’s look at this parable.

The Ten Virgins (Matthew 25:1-13)

This parable comes in the midst of Jesus’ discussion with the disciples about the end of the age. Chapter 24 leads up to this parable.

The parable uses the common practice of the wedding traditions (the known) to illustrate how to live in a state of preparedness for Jesus’ return (the unknown).

There are five foolish virgins, the ones who did not bring extra oil for their lamps. The thing about lamps is that the oil gets used up and more is always needed. When you don’t know how long you’ll be waiting, a wise person has extra.

The wise virgins did bring extra oil, and therefore they were prepared for the long wait. When the bridegroom finally arrived, only the wise virgins were prepared. The foolish virgins had to leave the celebration to find more oil. They were not welcomed back…

So waiting for a hurricane and waiting for Jesus’ return have these things in common:

  • Your preparation is really doing the chores you should have had done all along.

I shouldn’t have clutter in the yard, I should have put those shingles on the roof, and I really should have extra canned goods all year round. It’s amazing. When the news hits, everyone has to run out and clear the shelves. In Hawaii, there are three items that will be gone in hours: bottled water (even though our tap water is amazing), toilet paper (an island that relies on shipping can’t be without it), and spam (our staple food since WW2). Why don’t we keep these items in our pantry all the time?

As the day of Jesus’ return approaches, why is it that we aren’t ready? When a crisis comes into our lives do we hit our knees and “clear the clutter?”

Let’s live free of spiritual entanglements and stocked up on our supplies of God’s grace.

  • The sense of urgency and anticipation can be exhausting.

When the news broke that the storm was heading our way, everyone raced to get ready. That was two days ago, and as of this writing, Oahu is still waiting for the effects of the storm. Hurricane Lane has “tarried.” There is a sense of “come on, already!” around town. I’m becoming weary in the waiting and am tempted to dig into the stores that we layed up for the storm.

Just as the ten virgins became weary waiting for the bridegroom, we too can become weary waiting for Jesus’ return. We can let our guard down and run out of oil – a symbol of the Holy Spirit in our lives. I think it’s the emotional ups and downs that take its toll.

A better approach is to be ready in and out of season so that a state of preparedness is normal. If we can live prepared, we can relax and truly enjoy the wait.

  • Once you are ready, you need to find things to keep you busy during the wait.

Now that all of us have prepared as much as we know how we have to find something to do. This morning, I went down to the beach to see what the conditions were. I was not alone. It seems like many of us ventured out to see what was happening in the outside world. Even in the waiting, life goes on. Tonight, we are planning a hurricane party with board games…bored games 😉

In a spiritual sense, we can’t just sit around and do nothing. Remember the disciples staring up at the sky after Jesus ascended into heaven? Angels had to show up and tell them to get moving on the commission they had just been given. We too need to keep on doing the work of the Kingdom, especially as the time grows closer to our Bridegroom’s return.

This storm will come and then it will pass, but Jesus’ return will come and stay!

Being prepared for that day is our life’s work. Let’s encourage one another while we can.

Grace and peace,