But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps…
and at midnight, a cry was heard: 
“Behold the bridegroom is coming, go out to meet Him!” (Mt 25:4,6)

I held on to the rope for dear life, momentarily blinded by the darkness. What a time for my torch to die! Making a mental note to never again buy cheap, unbranded batteries, I stood forlorn on the freezing rock face of Mount Kinabalu at two in the morning. My hands were numb, my breathing laboured. Poised precariously on the wet granite slope, I pondered my options. In the dark, I could just make out the faint, distant lights of groups far ahead of me snaking their way wearily towards the unseen summit. I had never felt more alone. The absence of light condemned me to being left behind. I felt like one of the five foolish lamp bearers in the parable. 

Jesus warned us about keeping our lamps burning always! In the story of the ten virgins, what differentiated the group who had had light and that which didn’t was the oil. It is noteworthy that both groups were asleep while waiting for the bridegroom to arrive. That tells me it was a long wait and during this time, the lamps were all in minimal mode. Suddenly, the Master came! The lamps had to be flamed up pronto, but only those who had extra oil could respond. What might this mean? 

The parable warns us that in the last days, a “reserve” of spiritual oil is essential! Oil signifies the presence of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We are to cultivate His presence daily and be filled with His Spirit continually, for in the last days false prophets will deceive many. Just as a bank teller detects counterfeit notes just by knowing the “feel” of the real currency, so in the last days we discern false Christs by having had repeated, overwhelming experiences of the true One! 

Back on the rock face, a guide appeared with a torch out of nowhere. I was able to “borrow” his light and clamber to the summit. In the last days however, there is no borrowing. Either we have the extra oil or we die. We must cultivate the extra today.

Ps Dr Philip Lyn

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