The motto of the Boy Scouts of America is “Be prepared.” Be prepared for what, you might ask. And the answer would be to be prepared for anything. While this has long been the motto of the scouts, the idea goes back much further than this. God wants us to be prepared as well. And just as with the scouts, we should be prepared for anything.
Jesus often told parables – short stories with a point – in order to illustrate a particular idea that he was trying to convey. Rather than just issue a command, he would communicate the idea in a story that was memorable. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells the story of ten virgins who were awaiting the arrival of a groom.
Five of the virgins were prepared for a delay in the groom’s coming while the other five only thought of the moment and did not bring needed supplies in case things took longer than expected. Each had what they needed for the moment – a lamp to light their way – but only the five wise virgins planned ahead for what may come later.
At midnight, the call came that the groom was coming and the virgins should get ready to go. But only the five wise virgins had enough oil with them as they had brought extra in case of a delay. The foolish virgins had to go in search of more oil and were not back in time for the arrival of the groom. He took the five wise virgins into the wedding banquet and the unprepared ones were shut out.
Biblically speaking, this parable is about the return of Christ and how no one knows when it may be so every Christian should live their life prepared for it to happen at any time. There is a broader application to this story however and it teaches us about preparedness.
We may think we know what may happen in our life. We make plans based on our goals and what we anticipate will be required to meet those goals and we even may make contingencies if those goals don’t come to fruition as expected. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Jesus taught us to do this as well.
Luke 14:28 says “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it?” When you make those plans, you do so in faith that you’ll be able to complete the project. As much as you plan, you also know that you cannot control every contingency. There is a certain amount of faith that is involved with even the best laid plans. You do your part and then trust God to handle the rest.
There’s also a broader issue of faith that comes into planning. While we say that we should be prepared for anything, we know that’s technically impossible. A healthy 30 year old does not make plans for a cancer diagnosis nor could anyone possibly plan how to deal with the loss of a child. It is at this point that there can be no plan and the only thing left to cling to is faith. Trials bring out the best and the worst in people. While we plan in faith for as much as we can, when the unplannable occurs, we will only have faith to rely on. These events will truly show the strength of one’s faith after all of the planning is accounted for.