Lent for Everyone reading program. In the reading for today Jesus tells the parable of The Ten Virgins.
The Ten Virgins is always an odd one for me. Not only because of the rather archaic use of "virgins", but because ... well it's just odd and old and on the surface unrelatable to most anything else in our culture. Be that as it may, something new that came up for me was how I (and I think lots) tend to focus on a the "tarrying" of the bridegroom (God in the parable). We get hung up on that and miss the point. My mistake is to make the bridegroom, and therefore, God the focal point of the parable. But in fact Jesus tees up the parable by likening the kingdom of God to ten virgins. Jesus draws our eyes and ears to the ten virgins and their preparation (or lack thereof).
Jesus' point is not to shut down the honest questioning of God's absence that many good people raise, good Christians notwithstanding. Jesus tells this parable to his disciples who have only just before asked him to tell them what will be the sign of your coming, and of the close of the age. (24:3). I'm open to the thought that this can refer to any great day of the Lord's coming - such as the end of an illness, or the end of a period of suffering, or the end of a conflicted relationship. I'm open to that because I have experienced such great days, where at "the close of the age", God's redemption comes. The disciples will experience their walk with Jesus after the resurrection in part as a long and difficult hope that isn't realized in their lifetime. Jesus prepares them for that period with this parable.
Jesus' point is not to shut down honest questions, but to - on this occasion - point his disciples to living life prepared. As human beings we have a burning need sometimes to know. But sometimes, maybe often, we have to walk without knowing. I imagine that the journey for Abraham and Sarah to a place God would show them (Genesis 12) was long not only because of the number of days, but because of the not knowing.
Jesus tells his disciples that some things simply lie in God's hands. And that as disciples we make sure that we have enough oil to see in the dark.