"Ready and Awake" - Collectors Club, August 2020
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” Matthew 25: 1-13
“The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?” “I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied. The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.” Jeremiah 1: 11-12
For the past couple of years, the parable of the ten virgins has been on my heart with a sense of urgency. I was in prayer for this month’s painting and the picture of the oil jar and lamp kept coming to mind. I have painted a few different version of this in the past, but I felt the urge to paint it again for the Collectors Club. This time, I saw an almond branch as well. The oil jar and lamp signify to be ready and shine, while the almond branch is a symbol of awakening.
The Oil and Lamp - There is a lot I could write about concerning this parable, but I will share a few of the key parts the Lord keeps speaking to me about. I asked the Lord, what is the extra oil represent? How do we make sure we carry extra oil so we are ready with a lite lamp… I heard him say to me, “it’s walking with me daily. It’s knowing me and my ways. It’s the daily communing through the Holy Spirit, being truly born again and abiding on the vine.” We see in the verses above, when the bridegroom came, the foolish virgins asked if they could enter, he says “I don’t know you.” This is the divide of those who truly know the Lord and those who are false believers and try to get oil from others without paying the price for it ahead. The foolish virgins were told to go buy their own oil… walking with the Lord costs something. There is a price to pay for carrying extra oil daily to be prepared.
Everyone is responsible for their own oil according to this scripture. It’s a personal preparation and choice to be ready at any moment to meet Jesus. What is the cost? Certain things will differ for everyone according to their own life and calling, but there are a few things in the Bible we all have in common: picking up our cross daily and following Jesus, dying to our fleshly nature and selfish ambitions, fully surrendering our ways to the Lord. It may come with persecution, with the world hating you for the sake of Christ, it may cost you possessions, saying no to empty pursuits, friends, jobs, family, popularity, the latest trend, fitting in the crowd, etc. But at the end of the day, would getting in the door be worth all these temporary things? Absolutely!
The Almond Branch - Nature is a parable of God’s working. The almond tree is one of the first that awakens and blooms in the spring from its winter sleep. In the Bible it is a symbol of awakening and watching. God showed Jeremiah a vision of an almond branch as a sign that he is watching to fulfill his word to the prophet. God is always watching. The branch in the painting reminds me to awaken and be alert. We can’t be lulled to sleep by the ways of the world and loose our focus on what God is doing. He needs us to be his hands and feet on the earth to carry our his plans. We need to be like the budding almond branch, the first to blossom, so others can see the beauty and need for a life in Christ.
I pray this painting is a small reminder to be alert and make sure your oil jar is being filled daily. Share the light of Christ with others so they can have their own lamp filled as well. Every day the hour draws closer to the cry ringing out, “Here is the bridegroom! Come out and meet him!” We need to be like the wise virgins, ready with our extra oil.
Originally painted in acrylic on canvas.
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