Jesus spoke this parable to the disciples: “The kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.
“But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! There will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut.
“Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
Pause. Pray. Reflect.
You know those mornings when the sky is so soft you just want to snuggle into it? This is one of those mornings. The flowing pastel colours, they taper from the horizon into the sky above my head – colours that I could never re-create with my own paintbrush because God‘s creation is so spectacularly unique, it’s impossible to perfectly emulate it. This is one of those rare mornings that I am up early enough to witness the sunrise, and it’s because I’ve been given the gift of a drive along the oceanside to get to my first appointment of the day. I didn’t choose this moment, it chose me, and because of it, I have a front-row seat to the show of a lifetime.
I’m not a morning person. I love the idea of being a morning person. I romanticize waking up with the sunrise and watching the fog gently lift off the earth. It often seems, however, that my body is far too heavy in the early mornings, and it would take nothing short of an earthquake to move it from its spot. Even though I desire taking in all this beauty, I can rarely manage to shake myself awake.
Mornings like these are a gift from the Bridegroom. They are the blissful moments when I can receive the invitation of a faithful God who came to Earth to unite humanity to Himself. They are the fruit of a disciplined heart awake to receive the gift. Just as the fruit of discipline was revealed in the preparedness of the bridesmaids who had filled their lamps with oil, so too can we frame our lives with disciplines that will lead us into eternal celebration. And until then – glimpses of this blissful union to come.
For me, an aspect of this discipline is my morning routine. Waking at a regular time; abandoning the snooze button in favour of more time to meditate on the love of the Bridegroom; restraining myself from the time-sucking media scroll. Time that, if not wasted, awakens my mind, body, and soul to His beauty before me throughout the day – moments that are missed when my life is prayer-deprived.
This discipline must be motivated by a deep desire for love. It cannot be a condemnation. I have tried many times to shame myself into a more disciplined life. This is not sustainable and it is not the voice of God. The Bridegroom pursues me passionately and steeps me in His mercy until my heart cannot help but desire Him more and more. I know this because He has operated this way historically, and He is doing it right now. My heart is pierced with beauty and sorrow all at once as I feel His mercy pour into me, reminding me of the consummation of His love on the cross – the lamp that lights my path – illuminating me with the realization of how very lost I am without Him.