Storms of every variety pummel this planet, Earth, and we watch and listen to news reports, advisories, and updates waiting to learn where and when disaster may strike. It reminds us of the uncertainty of life on a fragile planet over which we have little control.
Whether it is a snowstorm, tornado, hurricane, typhoon, or earthquake, we are blessed if we have time to prepare and make a decision about what course of action we can or should take so we are safe. Each of us approach these opportunities a bit differently.
Some of us are bent or trained through organizations like Boy Scouts to be prepared. If you are with these people, you are likely to discover they have an extra case or two of water in their homes even if there is no impending storm on the horizon. They will likely also have extra batteries for flashlights, extra foodstuffs, and maybe even a generator. Some have a “go bag” with all the necessities in case they need to evacuate.
Others of us do not plan that far in advance and you may find us in long lines trying to buy up supplies in the hours before a storm is slated to hit. We will often be those trying to find gas to fill up our tank because we tend to not pay much attention to how much we have until a warning light says we are driving on fumes.
Then there are those of us who see the warnings, the news reports, and perhaps the warning to evacuate and yet we decide it really won’t be that bad and might even be fun to see what happens. After all, some forecasts never work out as predicted so why go to all that trouble? We stay where we are and may even venture outside to see what we can see even if the police are telling us to not do that.
These responses happen every time and we see the results as well. Some in this last group are those who are trying to get first responders to get them out in the middle of a storm when they recognize it really IS as bad as they said it would be. We NOW know we will not survive by staying where we are.
Those who try to get supplies at the last minute sometimes find the shelves bare and discover no one has gas for a 50-mile radius. We grab up whatever we can find and hurry home to see what things we can put together in case we need to get out of town.
That first group of organized folks who try to always be prepared are already boarding up windows and following their plan for the storm. They know that some times the storm goes another direction and misses them. All those supplies were not really necessary. But these folks know that might not be the case next time so they stay with their action plan to be prepared.
As the world watched in horror as the monster category 5 hurricane foment the waves of the Atlantic Ocean recently, we saw these scenarios play out again with the additional tension of hearing this storm was possibly the most wicked ever to be born in the Atlantic. Day after day it slowly developed and became everything predicted and millions of people rushed to their mode of operation for what would come next.
But then it stalled.
Hour-upon-hour Hurricane Dorian sat on top of the Bahamas destroying nearlyeverything without moving. The expected move toward Florida and the east coast of the United States waited as the storm delayed. The longer the delay, the easier it was to set aside anxiety and start to discount the storm would ever arrive in the United States or even be as potent when it did. Police kept returning to beaches to tell people to leave and get to safer places. Despite the big surf tempting surfers, this storm was unpredictable and everyone was warned not to turn his or her back on it.
Delays like this can be costly. Instead of being alert, we can decide we are going to be fine and might even resume our routines or we simply stop watching. We have storm fatigue and cannot sustain vigilance for that many days, but vigilance is what is called for and the lack of it can extract a price.
The same thing can happen to those of us who believe in Christ.
We are told to be watchmen and to be vigilant because the Lord will return and yet it has been a long time (almost 2,000 years). It can be easy to doubt He will return and to stop watching and waiting in the midst of what appears to be a delay from our vantage point.
The Lord gives us a poignant picture of the risk of fatigue in the midst of delay in Matthew 25:1-13 in what is commonly known as “A Parable about Ten Virgins.” Five of these young women were foolish and ill prepared much like those of us today who never have the supplies needed when a storm is approaching. They apparently thought that since the Lord was delayed there would always be time to buy oil for their lamps. Five of the young women were wise and had a supply at hand. They had oil in their lamps and more besides.
While waiting for the Lord’s return, they all fell asleep and then heard a shout to let them know the Bridegroom had come. The prepared were ready with oil to spare as they waited expectantly for Him to burst through the door even though they didn’t know the exact minute. They did not fear. The lamps of the foolish ones had run out of oil and they needed to go buy more oil after the wise and prepared young women refused to give them some of their oil since they didn’t know the exact moment of the Bridegroom’s appearance at their door.
The foolish unprepared went out looking for oil (much like those who search for water and flashlights) and when they returned, they discovered their delay had cost them everything because the Bridegroom had already come and gone. Even when they pounded on his door, He told them He didn’t know them.
Delays can be costly (perhaps deadly) if we do not remain vigilant and prepare.