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Wednesday, November 6, 2019

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No matter what age we are, we have to be ready to meet our Loving God

No matter what age we are, we have to be ready to meet our Loving God

A couple weeks ago our nation experienced another dreadful mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. The gunman killed 26 people and wounded 20 others after he opened fire during the Sunday service.

The shooter started firing shortly after the service began at 11:00 a.m. He was armed with a military-style rifle, and within minutes, many of those inside the small church were either dead or wounded.

The victims ranged in age from one to 77, and among the dead were several children, a pregnant woman and the pastor’s 14-year-old daughter, Annabelle. It was the deadliest mass shooting in the state’s history. Many families lost multiple members.

When you look at the list of those who died, it’s a cross section of that small community. There was a 5-year-old, a 7-year-old, an 11-year-old, a 13-year-old, a 16-year-old, plus people in their 30's, 50's, 60's and 70's. They were at church to pray to God, listen to God’s word and worship God in spirit and truth.

They were probably all prepared to meet their loving God although that’s not the reason they went to church. If they went to church for genuine spiritual reasons and got into the church service, I’m sure God was pleased with their worship. They were ready to meet their Maker.

Jesus told us a parable about the wise and foolish bridesmaids. He said, “Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.” All ten were present, their dresses gorgeous and their lamps glowing. They waited for the bridegroom together, but when he was delayed, they became drowsy and slept.

All ten behaved in the same way, which lets us know that Spiritual Wisdom cannot be judged by outward appearances.

Jesus then says, “Five of them were foolish, and five were wise.”

Half had high Spiritual Wisdom; five had low. It is not their presence that makes the difference, nor their enthusiasm, nor even their watchfulness – Jesus tells us that all became drowsy and slept. No, the difference is in their readiness.

At midnight they heard a shout: “Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!”

The bridesmaids all popped up and jump-started their lamps. The foolish bridesmaids, who had forgotten to bring flasks of oil with them, ran low and had to ask the wise bridesmaids for a refill.

When the spiritually wise women expressed their regrets about sharing, the foolish attendants had to make a run to an all-night oil dealer. By the time they finished their errand, the door to the wedding feast was shut and locked tight, and when they begged to be admitted, the bridegroom answered, “Truly, I do not know you.”

All were prepared for the celebration. Only half were ready for the waiting. The parable stresses the need to be patient during the waiting.

According to Jesus, the mark of Spiritual Wisdom is readiness: readiness in the face of long waits; readiness when life tests our patience; readiness when we are worn out and tired and unable to keep our eyes open; readiness when pain threatens to overwhelm us, when grief makes us feel as if we are drowning, when boredom dulls our senses; readiness when Christ seems distant and when his return seems delayed.

The sign of spiritual wisdom is to be prepared for tough times and ready for rough roads ahead. Yet, the gift of wisdom makes life bright and enriches all those who possess her.

Spiritual Wisdom requires a preparedness that we see in deeds of love and mercy. These deeds are done in obedience to Jesus’ command to feed the hungry, welcome strangers, clothe the naked, care for the sick and visit the imprisoned.

Ask God for the gift of Wisdom.