It hit me like a jolt.
The five wise virgins awoke from their sleep, got up, and started doing something.
You know how the Holy Ghost uses a story you love and flips on light switches in your brain in an instant?
I’ve watched the horrible plight of refugees. I’ve made donations. I’ve said prayers. I’ve cheered on people who have made a difference, like this American mom who took thousands of baby carriers to refugee parents.
“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”
They waited for the Bridegroom. He didn’t come as soon as they expected. They waited and fell asleep. (They must have all been REALLY tired fall asleep instead of chatting until midnight before a wedding!)
Suddenly, they heard the clarion call. They arose and trimmed their lamps.
To really apply this to myself, I’d recognize the woman thinking, “I’ll just sleep for 10 more minutes, that will still give me plenty of time to get up and trim my lamp before the group arrives.” Or “I just have three more things to finish on my list. If I do them really fast, I can catch up to the others before they all are in the room and close the door.” Or “I prepared 20 years ago. I know I put that oil somewhere…probably under that box of Relief Society crafts I meant to finish under my other unfinished goals.”
But, to be really honest, I wonder if I’d wake up at all. “I’m a really deep sleeper after all. Hopefully someone will wake me up and let me know when He’s coming.”
Luckily, there have been many people who have been trying to wake me up!
Wilford Woodruff said that the Church had fulfilled part of the parable of the 10 virgins—the part about being asleep. “[T]he word of the Lord to me is that we have slept long enough; and we have the privilege now of rising and trimming our lamps and putting oil in our vessels.”
What is my oil level? I go to church every week. I do most of the “right” things and don’t do most of the “wrong” things. I have a testimony. Do I have enough oil?
I loved how President Woodruff identified the measuring stick.
“When we are laboring for the kingdom of God, we will have oil in our lamps, our light will shine and we will feel the testimony of the Spirit of God.
On the other hand, if we set our hearts upon the things of the world and seek for the honors of men, we shall walk in the dark and not in the light.
If we do not value our priesthood, and the work of this priesthood, the building up of the kingdom of God, the rearing of temples, the redeeming of our dead, and the carrying out of the great work unto which we have been ordained by the God of Israel—
If we do not feel that these things are more valuable to us than the things of the world, we will have no oil in our lamps, no light, and we shall fail to be present at the marriage supper of the Lamb.”
Remember the Savior’s parable of the supper? The supper was ready. People were invited. They didn’t come. Servants were sent out to remind the people of the supper. They made excuses about why they couldn’t attend after all.
It all seemed reasonable. Someone was newly married. Someone had gotten a new plot of ground. Someone worried about his business. Nothing is inherently wrong with these pursuits, except pursuing them became priority over the king and his supper.
I’ve written about evaluating priorities before. “With a little reflection, I can easily track my evident priorities. Unfortunately, some “priorities” really aren’t what I feel or think are my priorities. And, this is my perpetual struggle.”
Apparently, at least I value the kingdom of God enough to have fallen asleep waiting for the bridegroom’s arrival instead of ignoring the invitation altogether.
Arise and Shine Forth and Be a Light to the Nations
Elder M. Russell Ballard describes the fruitlessness of constantly turning to the modern market.
“Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others, even to your children.
Avoid any kind of substance abuse, mistakenly thinking that it will help you accomplish more. And don’t allow yourself to be caught up in the time-wasting, mind-numbing things like television soap operas or surfing the Internet. Turn to the Lord in faith, and you will know what to do and how to do it.”
Admittedly, I have turned to the “market” to fill a need or to look for quick fixes, too.
Instead of running to the market, could the foolish virgins have thought totally out of the box and asked the bridegroom for oil?
Paul suggested that we should.
“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise…and Christ shall give thee light” (Ephesians 5:14.)
Christ Will Give Us Light
As we receive light from Christ, we will be energized with purpose and see the opportunities He’s given us. When we are awakened, we act.
“Before leaving Nauvoo, a group of Saints wrote a message in the assembly hall in the temple they were forced to abandon. It read, ‘The Lord has beheld our sacrifice: come after us.’”
Isn’t that tender and beautiful? Come. Be like us following Him.
The Lord gave us gifts, and talents, and circumstances, and faith, and asked us to follow Him. With our beautiful diversity, we are able to come together in unity and faith, bind up the broken hearted, bear one another’s burdens, and build His Kingdom through our individual and unique gifts.
Creating an organization to gather baby carriers never ever crossed my mind, and probably wouldn’t because I’ve never been a mom. But other things can, and will, cross my mind as I wake up and accept Christ’s light.
One of the Savior’s commandments has really settled into my soul. I can’t stop thinking about it.
“And I give unto you a commandment, that ye shall observe to do the things which ye have seen me do, and bear record of me even unto the end” (JST Matthew 26:25).
He said it a little differently to the Nephites. “This is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do.”
I feel amazed by what He did. Did He mean that I can do everything He did? Does He really believe I can do what He did? Wait, it’s a commandment?
“Therefore, if ye do these things blessed are ye, for ye shall be lifted up at the last day.”
He will help us. He will teach us. He will lead us. All things are possible through Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom, and His infinite Atonement.
He will give us light. And we will finally be, nearer to Him.
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.