“…at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
– Matthew 25:6-12
You may have read Part 1 of this little “series” on Life’s Landscapes, about the deserts of life, and thought, “nope, doesn’t apply. I’m not going through a ‘desert’ right now, I’m living it up in an oasis…everything’s smooth sailing for me.” Well, if that is you, then this post, Part 2, is for you.
You see, once you make it out of a desert and find a glorious oasis, it’s easy to start off rejoicing, giving God the glory for it, BUT, if you’re not careful, it can be very easy to forgot who led you into that oasis in the first place. It can be very easy to get nice & comfortable in that oasis…expecting to be able to stay there forever, build a nice little tiki-hut residence there…expecting the rest of life to be just like the oasis.
My warning (to myself) and to others, is to remember the purpose of the “oasis.” When God brings us to an oasis in life it is ultimately for His will & His glory. For many it may be because He knows we need the relief, we need the chance to pause, catch our breath, drink some refreshing water from His stream, & find rest in Him. But we also have to remember, that oasis is not our ultimate destination in life. Our destination is His promised land, eternity with Him, & the oasis is just one stop on that journey. The purpose of the oasis God brings us to is not to take up residence there, but to prepare us for what is ahead, to be a resource, an opportunity to stock up spiritual “supplies” to help us on the rest of the journey. It’s an opportunity to reflect on where we’ve come from, grow stronger, & be able to take refreshment in Him so we can continue forward in our journey, find & share God’s glories & hope with others along the way, & hopefully, to get others to join in the journey to His destination with us.
In an oasis, you might find emotional, mental, physical, relational, or financial renewal. If we lose sight of Christ while in the oasis, it might become easy to think we found those things in the oasis all on our own, or to use the resources in that oasis all for ourselves…while God might have a different purpose.
The potential of the oasis reminds me of the story of the Ten Virgins found in Matthew 25 (see above)…The oasis can have 2 outcomes- if we’re lazy, foolish, forgetful of our goal, & unprepared, it can end badly. We can end up left behind & hurting like the foolish virgins in the parable. But if we are ready, wise, focused, & watchful…if we use the oasis God has provided for us to prepare to continue to Him, it can be glorious. We will be like the wise virgins, ready to go into the feast when the time comes, instead of scrambling & showing up too late & a dollar short.
In the parable, I think of the wise virgins as the ones who used the resources in their oasis to prepare for the rough road ahead. They packed their bags with fruit (of the spirit 😉 )& food that would help them endure. They filled their water skins with the fresh, sweet water flowing through. They took time to rest & heal for the journey ahead, but they didn’t expect the road ahead to be easy. They used their time to grow stronger for the harder journey ahead. They used their time & resources to prepare themselves for when those resources might be harder to find.
On the other hand, the “foolish virgins” in the parable, are the ones who dilly dallied in the oasis. They kicked back, relaxed, went for a swim & got a sun tan. They slept all day & night. They got comfortable & forgot the purpose of the resources around them…so when it was time to continue on, they weren’t prepared, they weren’t ready, & when they hit the hardships on the journey ahead of them, they became angry & bitter at God because it wasn’t going how they thought it should…they wanted to turn around to go back to the Oasis because it was comfortable…instead of toughing it out & focusing on the Lord & the lessons He had provided, in order to reach an indescribable destination.
The more I write…the more I realize it reminds me of another…very well-known, & commonly stated passage of scripture…
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
3 He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.” – Psalm 23
Notice…that passage starts with comfort & hope…the “oasis” but then the author still has to face hardship & difficulty…but they learned from the oasis in order to help them focus on the Lord & keep their hope in the “valley of the shadow of death.” That is our hope…that is our destination…not the oasis, but Christ & to be with Him.
So…if you’re in an oasis in life right now…don’t flounder it. Don’t get comfortable. Prepare yourself for the things you will face down the line. Use your resources to help others still struggling in the deserts. Remember why you’re there…to rest, yes, but to prepare. Don’t let God find you unprepared & lazy…let Him find a servant ready & willing for the journey ahead…one to which He will be able to say in the end, “well done, good & faithful servant.”