Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Preparing for the Trip of a Lifetime

     Since the news that my husband has planned a special trip for us to Europe in honor of our 40th wedding anniversary, both of us have been diligently preparing for this big adventure.  The first leg of our journey will take us from a two day stay in Scotland to a car tour throughout England.  With this in mind, we have to plot out the route we will take, the cities we wish to see along the way and where we will stay.  For some, this would be a nightmare but part of the fun of going to a new country is finding a way to meet the people and learn about the history of the area.  From our point of view, this is more difficult if we are on a guided tour.  We want to be able to mix with the folks on the street, but I grant that it does take planning.
     In addition to looking up interesting historical sites on the Internet, we are also listening to travel shows that describe the culture, background and food in the area we plan to travel.  Reading a good travel guide and assessing the amount of time we have to spend all have to be considered.  Then, when the trip takes place, we can relax and enjoy it knowing the course we plan to take.  Isn't this really the same thing we are supposed to be doing as Christians?  I had to think about that as I was furiously typing sightseeing side trip websites into my laptop.  We are to prepare for the trip of a lifetime by preparing our hearts for our soon coming King.  We will not be ready for heaven if we sit on the sidelines just waiting for it to come.
     Jesus told a parable that talks about the importance of planning and preparation.  This story is found in Matthew 25:1-13.  He told His disciples about ten virgins waiting for a bridegroom to come.  Five were wise and five were foolish.  The wise virgins had their lamps trimmed and ready for use, but the foolish virgins brought no oil for their lamps.  The virgins all fell asleep waiting when a cry came up at midnight that the bridegroom was coming.  The wise virgins ran out with their lamps prepared and burning to go on to the celebration.  However, the foolish virgins had no oil.  They asked the wise ones to share their oil.  The wise virgins told them to go and buy some for themselves.  However, by the time they returned, the gates were shut and the wedding celebration had commenced.  Though these foolish virgins knocked on the door, they were not admitted for they were not known by the Lord of the feast.
Jesus concluded this story by saying in verse 13:  "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour."
     This parable points out the importance of preparation and planning.  The wise virgins had their lamps ready for use and brought extra oil for them.  On the other hand, the foolish virgins brought their lamps but no oil.  They had not bothered to be ready for the bridegroom.  We should not be too critical of those foolish virgins though.  Many of us are just like them.  We do not prepare our hearts for the Wedding Supper of the Lamb that will come one day.  Our Bridegroom will return for us and we do not know when.  So how can we plan and ready our hearts?  Here are some thoughts we should consider.
     Scripture tells us:  "Pray without ceasing"...(I Thess. 5:17)
                                  "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you"
                                    (I Thess. 5:18)
                                  "Do not quench the Spirit" (I Thess. 5:19)
                                  "Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good."
                                    (I Thess. 5:20)
                                   "Abstain from every form of evil" (I Thess. 5:22)
                                   "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no
                                     need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15)
                                   "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not
                                     neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another,
                                     and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." (Hebrews 10:24-25).

     Each of these Scriptures (and there are many more) point us in the direction of how we can keep our lamps ready for the coming of our bridegroom and the trip of a lifetime.  The study of God's Word, prayer, fellowship, walking in the Spirit are all important elements not only for our growth but for our preparation.  This is not unlike planning the route we will take for our European trip.  We would be foolish if we went with no idea in mind of how to get to our destination.  What a waste of time!  Yet, many of us do waste precious hours that we could be spending at the feet of our Lord.  I want to recognize the voice of my Master when He calls me.  I don't want to be running around looking for my Bible just like the foolish virgins that went to buy more oil.  It was too late!  They missed the blessing and so can we, unless we take the time to be prepared.
     My husband is gifting me with the trip of a lifetime.  However, Christ has given to us salvation and an eternity in His presence free from sin, evil, tears, sickness and death.  To enjoy fully what He has done for us and to bring greater glory to His name, we must be like the wise virgins and prepare the lamps of our lives.  He has given to us all we need for life and godliness.  We just have to be faithful to prepare.  Selah!


Diana Lovegrove said...

I think you and I are having trips of a lifetime crossing the Atlantic on our way past each other - I will soon be in the USA whilst it seems you will soon be in my England :) May you have a wonderful trip here and I trust you will fall in love with my country :)

Penned Pebbles said...

Another great analogy! Enjoy your trip!

Barbara Thayer said...

Oh Diana...I am so excited. I have always dreamed of visiting England. I love the history, literature and beauty from all that I have read and seen. I am certain I will love the UK! I pray you have a wonderful time in the USA as well and will want to come back for another visit! Many blessings my friend!

Barbara Thayer said...

Petra...thank you for your visits and your comments which I so much enjoy. I guess I tend to see analogies all over the place don't I? Funny how the simply day to day routine leads to thoughts of what the Lord teaches us in His Word. Blessings to you my friend.