I have often read the parable of the Ten Virgins and wondered what a modern version of the story might look like. I came up with prevailing attitudes that are cross-generational. Times change but people don’t. We make the same excuses for serving and not serving. I am sure you will be able to guess which of the virgins are wise and which are foolish.
1. I am Tally Talk-A-Lot.
When I visit with a friend, I have so much to say. I tell you about my dog, my cat, my kids, my clothes, my house. I tell you about my aches and pains, my present, past and future plans. I listen to every conversation just long enough to turn the conversation to my favorite subject – “Me”!
2. I am Lilly Listener.
My ministry to be like Jesus is not a simple task. I have to put myself on hold and try to hear my sister’s heart. She may have a hidden hurt that I will miss if I don’t listen to her words. I must listen with my eyes as well. She may tell me volumes in the way she speaks and what she doesn’t say. I pray daily for my sister, because I know I am a messenger for Jesus. I must learn to be her friend. You see, my sister must know I care about her life in order for her to share the troubles of her soul. I have promised to bear another’s burden. I can’t do that if she doesn’t share. For just a little while I will listen with the ears of Christ and bless as He would bless.
3. My name is Terry-No-Time.
I am so, so busy! I have kids, and school, and church, and my TV shows, and Facebook and my job. I can’t take time to make a cake or make a friendly call, much less visit anybody! Every minute is tied up with house cleaning, shopping and work. I just don’t have time to breathe these days! I can’t imagine how I could possibly visit anyone or do service of any kind. I am so busy; I don’t have time for me!
4. I am Charity Care-A-Lot.
I am so, so glad to be busy! Someday I will not be able to do so much. My health will be gone, and I will depend on others to meet my needs; therefore I will do all the work I can today. I have a full-time job, but I know God needs me in other places. Last week I taught a merit badge for the Boy Scouts. I helped my daughter make refreshments for mother-daughter night. I helped a friend clean her house and I made a cake for a neighbor. I don’t really know her, but I wouldn’t miss the chance. Because Jesus said, “If ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me.” I tutor a high school student who cannot read. I am so worried for his future. He wants to go to college, but the reading will stand in his way. It is the least I can do. Someone taught me how to read. I felt I needed to visit Sister Senior Citizen; she needs a visit to make her feel loved. Someday I will be in her chair. When I visit her, it lifts my spirit. I am so, so busy! I have learned the more I stretch my capacity, the more the Lord opens the doors, and I feel His presence lifting me and making me stronger. I allow the Spirit to dictate when I say, “no” to service. I have found that I can do so much more than I ever thought I could. I have learned to organize! If I just did what I thought I could do, I would never have felt the angels carry my burden. Yes, that has happened so many times!
5. I am Shelly Shy-One.
The Spirit asked me to visit someone I don’t even know! She is Sister New-in-Town. I told the Spirit, “I couldn’t possibly do that! I don’t know her! She might have dogs. I am afraid of dogs. She might have cats! I am allergic to cats! She might even think I am weird for coming over to visit.” The Spirit said, “Take her a welcome basket.” I can’t do that! She would probably think I was a salesman or something! I hate salesmen! I can’t meet new people. It’s just too hard for me!
6. I am Sally Self-Confident!
I have not always been self-confident. I was like Shelly Shy-One. I was afraid everyone was looking at me and thinking that I was not very smart. I was clumsy and made lots of mistakes, but I prayed and the Lord taught me that if I would go out of my way to be friendly, it would work out. I tried, and guess what! I found that other people were feeling the same way I did. We shared our fears and became friends. Now I try to make every stranger a friend. All it takes is a smile and “Hello.” They are always glad that I spoke first. We are all brothers and sisters in the Lord. I learned that it is not all about me. It’s all about us in the brotherhood of God.
7. I am Contessa Comfort Zone.
You might as well know right now, I don’t like change! When they hired a new minister, I nearly quit going to church! Pastor Long-timer was the only pastor I could talk to. He knew all my problems, and he knew what I should do about it. This new pastor has a few things to learn. If he wants to change things, I won’t do it! He just doesn’t know how hard change is for “me!”
8. I am Cynthia In-and-Out-of-the-Box.
Change isn’t easy, you get comfortable; it feels good to know exactly how things are and what is expected of you, but I have found over the years, that being flexible is an opportunity to see the world through different eyes. It gives you a new perspective and an opportunity to make a new start. That is what “being born again” is all about. We walk in newness of life! You can’t do that in a comfort zone. It certainly would be easier to be lulled to sleep if we didn’t get shook up once in awhile. Think about it! Changing church leaders is an opportunity to make new friends. You never abandon the old friends; you just widen your circle.
9. I am Patti Pity-Party.
I don’t like to complain, people have not visited me since I moved into this church. They never come over or call. People seldom speak to me. I just don’t feel a part of anything. I come to church and sit in the back row in the corner. You would think someone would come and talk to me, but they never do. I don’t like to come to the church because I just sit by myself. I don’t think anyone cares about “me.”
10. I am Cilia Solve-the-Problem.
People are awfully busy. Sometimes they don’t take time to call me. I know they should, but I can’t feel sorry for myself. I have learned that the phone rings both ways. If my friends haven’t called me, I call them. I know they must be having trouble, or they would have called. Ministering for Christ is so important. Every sister needs a phone call or a visit. If I hear that my sisters are sick, I go and visit them. So what if someone doesn’t like me? Not everyone liked Jesus either. I heard a saying once: “She drew a circle and shut me out, but love and I had the will to win. I drew a circle that took her in.” I used to sit on the back row in the corner and wait for someone to talk to me, but I don’t like feeling lonely, so I speak to other people first. Who knows, they might be feeling lonely just like me. I especially reach out to those who seem shy. I have been there and I will do all I can to help someone feel wanted. That’s what Christ would do.
The difference between the foolish and the wise virgins is easy to see. The foolish virgins make excuses while the wise virgins make a difference. In this new year, I need to make some changes. I need to stop thinking of reasons why I can’t bless the lives of others and start doing something to make a difference. Becoming more Christ-like is not easy, but it is the one ingredient that will bring peace to the world faster than anything else. PD