by Jane Zachman Vaughn
Worry. Is that something that takes up your thinking-space these days? We could worry about all sorts of things: life just seems to get out of our control – all by itself. I believe I have found a secret about worry. It is useless!! My time wasted. Besides, Jesus teaches us not to be “anxious” about our food, shelter, or clothing (Mt.7:25ff) – well, actually we are to be anxious about nothing (Phil.4:6).
But what about our economy? These surely are uncertain times. Could there be another “crash” – a depression or recession? Of course there could – and economists and prophets alike are warning this nation that such a thing is probably on our next horizon.
Is that not something we should worry about? Well… will our worrying fix what needs fixing? Change what needs to be changed? Not really. What then? Francis Schaeffer asked: “How shall we then live?” Great question! Herein is the secret: Jesus speaking: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt.6:33).
Priorities. I understand that to mean that I am to concern myself with what is important to God – and allow Him to remain concerned about my details (some of which I can’t really control anyway!) One thing for us to do, then, is being ready – or prepared – ahead of time (1Pet.3:13).
The parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25 (5 Wise, 5 Foolish) teaches us about being prepared. But before we look at that Scripture, let’s note that another place (in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians) is important as it comes alongside this parable – Ephesians 5:15-17.
In Ephesians 4, Paul begins to lay out quite a number of imperatives – commands for believers – that form the practical application of how we are to walk out our faith in Christ (add Phil.2:12b). The whole longer passage in Ephesians is worthy of noting, but let’s go to 5:15. “See then that you walk circumspectly (carefully), not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore, do not be unwise….” Fools – Wise – Redeem the time.
So, what to do to prepare in these days? Stockpile food and water? Store up survival equipment? The Church has done that before. And to no avail, I might add. But – are you preparing spiritually for the tougher days that just may lie ahead? How? Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God. Yes. Redeem the time. Yes, and yes again.
The 10 virgins in the parable – half were wise, half were foolish. This is not contrasting the “saved” with the “unsaved.” It’s not about getting into Heaven. All 10 went out to meet the Bridegroom. All anticipated His coming. They all had lamps with oil… but the foolish five had not figured on Him tarrying – delaying. These five had no reserves from which to draw. They were not prepared – to last – or “endure to the end.” They had enough oil for “today.” And then, when they depleted their supply, they had to scurry to go find more oil… so they did that. And it took time.
This is not the door to salvation – they were not shut out of eternity. This parable is about having extra oil – stored in your vessel. More than you think you need – for now. More than enough oil to sustain light over a length of time. “Be filled with the Spirit” (Eph.5:18) – filled to overflowing – so that you cannot contain the peace He brings – the “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Phil.4:7). More than enough extra oil so that you can last a long time. A long time – of waiting: “They that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength” (Isa.40:31); “Do not grow weary in well-doing” (2Thes.3:1).
Are you waiting on God – to do something – for you? With you? To answer your biggest prayer? Do you “feel” like you are losing hope of His provision? Redeem the time. Make the most of what time you have – now. Fill up your internal reserves – while there is time.
This Hebrew word “wait” means more than standing there tapping your toes. And it means more than “serving” the Lord during the waiting times. The word /qavah/ inherently holds the concept of waiting hopefully. We wait in expectant hope that God will provide – because we KNOW He is faithful to His Word. “The LORD is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him” (Lam.3:25).
Many of us who came through the Charismatic Renewal of the ‘60s and ‘70’s believed – truly believed – that Jesus was going to return in the next few years. I never thought my eldest son would see his teen years – or drive my car – or marry. He’s 46 – and I’m a grandmother! J I am still waiting for His soon-coming! But I have never given up the hope that He will fulfill every promise.
Our preparation is not in stockpiling goods – or even extra money in a savings account (although that is always WISE!) We redeem the time – we get ready now for harder times that just may come sooner than later. We prepare by pressing in to know God – and He reveals everything we need to know about Him in His Word. All the secrets of living this life successfully are there – hidden for us to mine out the treasures. When we bury the treasures of His Word in our hearts, they are there so that the Holy Spirit can, indeed, bring them back to our remembrance at the very moment we need to tap into the reserve.
Jane Zachman Vaughn, Women of the Word partner, sister, and friend suddenly left us for heaven on September 9, 2016 at the age of 72. I was in Franklin, NC for a WOW One Day event on September 10 and did not hear until early on Sunday September 11. She was first and foremost a disciple of Jesus. She also taught God’s Word with excellence. She was a loving wife, mother and grandmother as well as a faithful friend.
Her going home is a loss to us, but such a gain for her. I had just spoken with her the week before and knew she was praying for that event and also the WOW Israel ministry trip. Jane was a prayer warrior and I know she is now with the great cloud of witnesses cheering us all on. Her last financial gift to WOW had just arrived before I left for NC to support the believers in Israel. What a testimony!
Jane was a personal mentor to me when I first began working with Women of the Word. She taught me so much about planning events. She taught me a lot about the practical side but she always put the spiritual aspect first! We prayed together many times then and over the years after. There are so many things I recall about her – all good and I know pleasing to the Lord. Well done my dearest friend! I love you! ~ Betsy Roy