Just as most young girls do, at around age ten I dreamed of getting married. I tried on my mother’s wedding dress at age twelve, found some fake flowers, and posed in front of her large bedroom mirror admiring myself. At eighteen, I believed I was ready to marry. Unlike many girls who had dreams of a business career, I always wanted to be a wife. I had visions of the ’50s family and all the perceived stability of that decade—surely influenced by the then-popular television series of the time.
I felt prepared, believing that being married would solve the problems of living in a broken and dysfunctional home. I had visions of a loving husband who would care for me, love me, and save me from it all. The fact that I wanted it to happen must certainly be enough to make it work. Unfortunately, however, the boy whom I had set eyes on did not feel the same way about marriage; he eventually went another way with someone else. I was devastated, of course, but learned that just wanting it to be didn’t always make it so.
Like the marriage between a man and woman, there will be a future marriage between the Church and Christ. The same principles apply to both, which is why Christ used the marriage analogy throughout his earthly ministry. As members of the Church, each of us must do his or her part to be prepared.
The unprepared virgins in Christ’s parable acted quite the same way. They thought that wanting to be with the bridegroom would be enough (Matthew 25). They rushed ahead without any preparation, much as I had, feeling that being ready was sufficient. However, being ready is not the same as being prepared. Had I been prepared, I would have noticed that the boy was not as interested as I was. I would have spent time getting to know him, not trying to force the situation. My zeal for the end event, marriage, blinded me to what was right in front of me.
Matthew 25:1-5 talks about how half of the virgins did not take oil with them to meet the bridegroom. They were unprepared, and even when the bridegroom was delayed they did nothing more, deciding instead to sleep when the others slept. They not only had the opportunity to come prepared in the first place, but also squandered their second chance to prepare. At every turn, they had unrealistic expectations. They thought wanting it was enough.
Matthew 25:6-12 goes on to show that they were unable to meet the bridegroom when he did arrive because they had no oil to light their lamps. They were in the dark, unable to see what they should have. Instead they went (surely frantically) to buy oil, but discovered they were not recognized upon their return. They had fooled themselves into believing that wanting it would be enough. Like me, these virgins were excited at the prospect, but fell short, left in the dark to what was really happening. They took it for granted that the bridegroom would love them, care for them, and save them from it all, even though they hadn’t put any effort into the relationship. They hadn’t tried to really know Him.
Like the virgins who needed to prepare for their wedding, Christians must prepare for that spiritual wedding. Christian preparation means taking the time to study the Bible and praying that our sins be forgiven—and then doing all we can to overcome those sins. We must evaluate our lives daily to see where we are in our spiritual growth and make any necessary changes. Most importantly, we must take the focus off ourselves and direct it toward God and others, serving with love.
Matthew 25:13 warns us to always be prepared. If we are not, we could be left behind just as the five virgins were. Even though we believe, we may not be ready. It’s important that we don’t just play dress up and wait for things to happen. We must prepare for the Bridegroom, taking advantage of the time before He arrives to understand what a bride should be and how she should act.
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