My Bag is Packed and I Can Only Imagine

My bags are packed, I’m ready to go!

Grandma kept her bag packed. She was always ready to go. Whenever her children or grandchildren visited, she waited for that invitation, “Come, go with us.”

“I’m ready to go,” she’d answer. And she was.

I know, because I invited her several times, and she almost always accepted my invitation. I didn’t have to wait long for her to prepare because she was ready. Her bag was packed with essentials.

I was thinking about that this morning. Am I ready to go? Is my bag packed?

I’m semi-retired. I have time, lots of it. And I have an up-to-date passport, so I could be ready quickly if someone invited me to go with them.

But I was thinking of another sort of trip. Am I ready for that?

As a Christian, I know how to “pack my bag.” I know all the right things to do to keep myself ready. When I hear, “Come go with me,” I can leave. Or can I? Am I really prepared? I can only imagine.

I know how to stay fueled up and ready, so I won’t need to stop and buy gas. That small delay could cause me to lose valuable time. In an emergency, seconds count. I’m wondering right now what my fuel gauge registers. Half a tank? Three quarters?

In a parable that Jesus told, there were ten unmarried women (virgins) who were affianced (yes, I know that would be a lot of wives, but it wasn’t unusual in those days). They were told to wait until the bridegroom came for them. He could come at any time, so they would need to be ready. Five of them had their oil lamps filled to the brim and prepared an extra flask of oil, just in case.

The other five had grabbed their lamps, never checking to see if they were filled, and they hadn’t brought any extra.

I can easily imagine that the “foolish five” may have laughed at their sister-brides for being so diligent (OCD) because you know, there’s a convenience store open twenty-four hours and they could just pop in there on a moment’s notice and buy oil to fill their lamps.

Hours passed, and the foolish five grew bored and fell asleep, while the others kept themselves prepared to leave as though the bridegroom would arrive at any moment.

It was the middle of the night when the cry came that the bridegroom was on his way. Traditionally, the wedding party would approach with lamps lit or torches burning, so you could see them coming, some distance away.

The girls all jumped up, trimmed, and lit their lamps. The five lazy ones ran out of oil and tried to bum oil off their well-supplied sisters. But those girls had been warning them for hours, “you’d better get ready.” It may seem selfish, but they knew that if they shared their oil, none of them would be able to complete the trip. They would all look foolish.

In a panic, the slackers ran to the nearest oil dealer, bought oil, and then followed the others. By the time they got back, the groom had already come. They ran to his home, but the door was closed and locked. The guard would not open it because the wedding was underway. The five foolish girls were too late. They had missed their opportunity.

So, what was Jesus saying in this parable? Don’t wait until the last minute, hoping you’ll have time to get ready. Be always ready.

You might think it wasn’t fair. What about grace and forgiveness? I can only imagine how happy those first five brides were when they finally reached that moment…

There is one main requirement: believe. Romans 10:8-18 is a good place to find the way. “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Verse 13)

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Romans 10:17 ESV