I live my life according to lesson plans, at least every day that I'm at work. I teach five classes a day by following the lesson plan given to me by my librarian. These plans vary in detail; for some, I have step-by-step instructions, while others are simply lists of a couple of book titles and special instructions for reading them or doing the activity. Success in carrying out these plans relies on a few things:
• Listening to my librarian, especially if I get the chance to have her give the same lesson I will be giving later.
• Being familiar with the lesson plan in advance
• Knowing my material
• Preparing myself
Obviously, these are things that can't be done in the last five minutes before the class arrives or, worse, once they're inside the library door and I am theoretically in charge of them. It is a terrible feeling to see a kindergarten class come through the door and then suddenly realize that one has no idea what one is supposed to be doing with them for the next 45 minutes.
The time to plan a lesson for a kindergarten class is not when they are at the door or when they are milling around your feet in a confused fashion. You can't borrow someone else's wisdom and experience when you are alone in that library with the class. The time to plan was when you had time to think earlier in the day or earlier in the week. Once the class is in the room, you have to be ready to carry out the plan and not still be in the throes of making the plan.
It's the same with following Christ. In Matthew 25: 1-13, we can read the parable of the ten virgins who are waiting for the bridegroom. “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut. “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
The time for buying oil was before the bridegroom was on his way. The time for our preparation is now. The time for our preparation is now. We'd better not wait until it seems that Christ's coming is imminent to do the things we know we ought to do. In Matthew 24: 45-51, the parable of the good and the evil servant reinforces this concept. “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master made ruler over his household, to give them food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master, when he comes, will find so doing. Assuredly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all his goods. But if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Clearly, then, we ought to be living our lives in preparation of His coming. We can also look at this from a slightly different perspective to draw additional meaning from those ten virgins and ten lamps. Christ told us in John 16:33 that in this world, we would have tribulations. Indeed, we will all face various trials in our lives. The time to be building the faith and perseverance to endure those trials isn't once they have begun, but rather in the peaceful time beforehand. We must be careful that during our times of calm, we don't forget to replenish our stock of oil through study, meditation, and worship of God.
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