Only God can keep our lamps lit. He is the unending flow of oil required to keep our fires burning. This parable is about the ten bridesmaids who went to meet the bridegroom. Five were prepared so much so that even though the groom was delayed, they had enough oil to keep their lamps going. Not so for the remaining five, who showed up with lamps and no oil.
Luke 18: 1-8
In this parable, the message is clear, “keep knocking”. Who does that? Well, the one without shame, pride or “manners” – the one whose motive is singular. We’ve all been this person at a time or other, on our knees, tears streaming ceaselessly as we petition God’s help. These moments are telling to me – how we remember who to pray to in our time of need.
In our parable, the judge responds to the widow’s relentless pleas. Jesus asks how much more would God do, to rescue us from our oppressors. There is an important part to this parable, a powerful last sentence in verse 8: “I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? (NIV)”
That’s the part I want to talk about. Human nature is such that we flee to our knees in times of trouble or jubilation, and promptly forget God in between, or better yet, when we receive our answers. This is lukewarm faith – remembering God when we need a favor, or to assign blame. There is a danger in this – lukewarm faith can either eventually go hot or cold – but it cannot remain as is. Picture a flickering candle light, how fragile the fire is when it’s blowing about in the wind, threatening to die out, and how triumphantly it spews out little sparks when burning bright. We want our fires to always burn bright.
Matthew 25: 1-13
These two parables are important in our lives today when we face illness, death, uncertainty and tribulations. We are to keep knocking on God’s door relentlessly even when He has answered us. To keep at our Father’s feet is in answer to Jesus’ question regarding faith. “Yes, I will come,” He is saying, “Will I still find a believer in you?”
Now faith cannot be apart from our seeking the Giver of faith. God Himself will provide the oil, but we must ask Him for it. It isn’t enough to think that we have enough to sustain us (lukewarm prayers of need and gratitude only) for the second parable spells out the danger in this.
Keep in mind that when things are at their worst, and our prayers seem to fall on deaf ears is when our “oil” is burning up more than usual. We need it constantly replenished, and that’s why I implore you to keep at your Master’s feet.