30 Aug 2019
1 Thessalonians 4:1-8
Brothers, we urge you and appeal to you in the Lord Jesus to make more and more progress in the kind of life that you are meant to live: the life that God wants, as you learnt from us, and as you are already living it. You have not forgotten the instructions we gave you on the authority of the Lord Jesus.
What God wants is for you all to be holy. He wants you to keep away from fornication, and each one of you to know how to use the body that belongs to him in a way that is holy and honourable, not giving way to selfish lust like the pagans who do not know God. He wants nobody at all ever to sin by taking advantage of a brother in these matters; the Lord always punishes sins of that sort, as we told you before and assured you. We have been called by God to be holy, not to be immoral; in other words, anyone who objects is not objecting to a human authority, but to God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
Jesus told this parable to his 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 sensible: the foolish ones did take their lamps, but they brought no oil, whereas the sensible ones took flasks of oil as well as their lamps. The bridegroom was late, and they all grew drowsy and fell asleep. But at midnight there was a cry, “The bridegroom is here! Go out and meet him.” At this, all those bridesmaids woke up and trimmed their lamps, and the foolish ones said to the sensible ones, “Give us some of your oil: our lamps are going out.” But they replied, “There may not be enough for us and for you; you had better go to those who sell it and buy some for yourselves.” They had gone off to buy it when the bridegroom arrived. Those who were ready went in with him to the wedding hall and the door was closed. The other bridesmaids arrived later. “Lord, Lord,” they said “open the door for us.” But he replied, “I tell you solemnly, I do not know you.” So stay awake, because you do not know either the day or the hour.’
The bridegroom was late
In another version of this reading, it was written that the bridegroom was ‘long delayed.’ I personally like this version better (and yes, I have Bibles with both the UK and US versions – all Catholic :)). When you say someone is late, one’s first thought is that the person did not come one time. However, when you say one is delayed, one would first think that something happened for the person’s arrival to happen later. There is a reason for being delayed.
In a Jewish marriage, after the betrothal, the bridegroom prepares the house for the bride before fetching her to live with him. With this in mind, I would think that the bridegroom was delayed because he was trying to put things in order for his bride and something important in that process had to be attended to and completed. If that were the case, I wouldn’t exactly call him late.
As I am writing this reflection, I had to reflect on how many times I would think that God is late in making things happen in my life. To think that God is late means I’m expecting him to complete something at an agreed time. And I realized that God never promised us anything based on an exact time – he didn’t even put a calendar date on His 2nd coming! His promise is based on quality – that we will have eternal life with him, that we will be happy with him, that our joy and redemption will surely come if we wait on him.
It’s so easy to feel frustrated whenever we feel that something is already late. As a bridegroom, God wants what is best for us, not only because that will give Him greater glory, but also because that will make us the best version of ourselves. God’s delay shows us how patient He is, because He is willing to wait to make it the best possible thing to happen. The Israelites had to wander in the desert when there was a shortcut, remember?
So what do we do during this period of delay? We make sure we are ready. We are in the current states of our lives so we can be ready when God calls us to the next phase of our lives. I think it is ok to anticipate and be excited for the future, but we should not let this anticipation and excitement rob us of the disposition of enjoying the present. Unfortunately, some of us live our lives simply not being able to wait for the next phase — we can’t wait to grow up, we can’t wait to settle down, we can’t wait to have kids, we can’t wait for the kids to be out of the house, we can’t wait until we retire.
When God is ‘delayed’, there is a reason for it. Let’s wait patiently and enjoy this season.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Stephanie Villa)
Prayer: Dearest Lord God, I would really like you to give me what you want me to have soon, but I would rather ask for the grace to wait on you and your promises until the fullness of time.
Thanksgiving: Thank you, Lord, the gift of this season. Please help me learn all the lessons and enjoy everything I could enjoy in this season.