A few days ago, in the early morning hours, I (along with every other Floridian with a cell phone) was abruptly woken up by an obnoxiously loud alarm. When its ring pierced through my deepest sleep I levitated off of the bed and frantically began reaching for my phone to find a way to make it stop. For a split second, in my groggy and confused panic, I truly thought the good Lord was coming back to find me in my pajamas. When I was finally able to turn the alarm off, I received a message that said something to the effect of, “This is a test emergency alert. No action is required.” I was relieved to know that it was a false alarm, but with the adrenaline that was just pumped through my veins, there was no chance of me being able to fall back asleep. As I caught my breath while staring at the ceiling fan, I felt the Lord gently whisper, “Are you ready?”
Spiritual warfare has always existed, but I feel that it is more visible now than it has ever been. Ever since 2020 it feels as if we have constantly been pummeled by adrenaline pumping false alarms and inundated with more bad news than we were ever meant to know. Evil isn’t hiding anymore. It is unapologetically out in the open working hard to steal, kill and destroy all that was created to be good. Innocence is being perverted, truth is hated and everyone in power seems to have a greedy agenda. Mental illness is at an all time high and moral standards are at an all time low. Darkness is more visible than ever, but so is the light.
"Darkness is more visible than ever, but so is the light."
The end of every war is always the most violent. It is a time where everyone puts all of their cards on the table. It’s do or die. It is a time of desperation to win. Christians are exhausted from the heaviness of constantly fighting “the good fight.” Everyone’s fuses are a little shorter than they used to be. Lines that divide beliefs and opinions have become hostile battle fronts. We all sense in our spirit that we are getting close to the end of a spiritual war. We are weary, it is getting messy and the Devil is clearly getting desperate. Something is about to give. How can we be ready?
Jesus once told a story to describe how to prepare for his return. Keep in mind that in this story, the Bridegroom is Jesus and we are the bridesmaids. The story went like this…
“Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be like 10 bridesmaids who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The five who were foolish didn’t take enough olive oil for their lamps, but the other five were wise enough to bring extra oil. When the bridegroom was delayed, they became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight they were roused by the shout, ‘Look! The bridegroom is coming! Come out and meet him!’ All of the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. Then the five foolish ones asked the others, ‘Please give us some of our oil because our lamps are going out.’ But the others replied, ‘We do not have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Then those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, ‘Lord! Lord! Open the door for us!’ But he called back, ‘Believe me, I don’t know you.’ So you, too, must keep watch! For you do not know the day or hour of his return.” - Matthew 25:1-13
These words are not always easy to hear but there is so much wisdom and hope that can be gleaned from this passage about having a prepared heart.
The Word is alive and can bring new revelations to you every time you read it. I have heard this parable several times, but recently I asked the question, “What did the five bridesmaids do differently that made them wise?” They were all invited to the same wedding feast. They all had the same style lamps. They all fell under the same circumstances. They all had to wait in the same place. They all grew drowsy and fell asleep. They even all had oil. The difference was that the five wise maids had extra oil.
All throughout the Bible, oil represents the Holy Spirit and the presence of God. To anoint someone with oil was to anoint them with the Holy Spirit. So, the maids were wise because they had more of the Holy Spirit in their lives which in turn, made their hearts ready for anything. Oil is what gets you through times of unknowns. Oil is what keeps the fire of faith burning. Oil is what brings the light to this world. Oil is what guides our steps back to the bridegroom.
I grew up in a southern church that was saturated in tradition. God the Father was terrifying, Jesus was an unrelatable dude in a white robe and the Holy Spirit was never really mentioned. I had all the rules but none of the relationship, which left me feeling like a complete phony. I was simply going through the motions of what I should do to gain the approval of others while inwardly wallowing in the shame of never measuring up.
Over the years, the faith of my parents began to outgrow religion and I was able to witness the real, tangible relationship they had with God. In my own time, my relationship with God the Father and Jesus blossomed as well, but I neglected the Holy Spirit. I knew He was always there but I was honestly afraid to draw close to that part of God. The main reason why I was afraid was simply because I did not know what to expect. Would I lose control and scream in tongues? Would I start hearing voices? Would people think I was crazy? What if I tried to reach out to the Holy Spirit and He didn’t reach back? Could the God of the cosmos really be intimate with me? Would He even want to?
"The main reason why I was afraid was simply because I did not know what to expect."
It wasn’t until I went to college that I was able to surround myself in a community of people that were genuinely in love with every part of God. I witnessed them walk in step with the Spirit. Not only did I hear their testimonies about how the Holy Spirit was communicating with and working through them, but I witnessed it. I would see how God spoke to them in many different ways. I saw the gifts of the spirit blossom in their hearts and bear fruit of wisdom, prophecy, healing, breaking addiction, complete personality changes and so much more. The joy that radiated from them had a gravitational pull on my soul. Through that community I began to understand how to create more room in my heart for the Holy Spirit. My fear of the unknown turned into an unquenchable desire to know Him as much as I could. These college kids came from all different backgrounds and were “normal” as they come.
"My fear of the unknown turned into an unquenchable desire to know Him as much as I could."
The reason the Spirit poured out on them was because they asked Him to. They each individually had a relationship with Him, so when they came together His presence was tangible. Like the wise maids, they bought their own oil directly from the source. As I was inspired and encouraged by my family and my college community, I became frustrated because I felt that I wasn’t connecting to the Holy Spirit like they were. That is when the parable of the bridesmaids came back up in my life. Except this time, instead of focusing on what made some of the maids wise, I pondered the question, “what made the other maids foolish?” What made the other maids unwise wasn’t the fact that they didn’t bring extra oil. They were unwise because they thought they could borrow someone else’s. Our experience and relationship with the Holy Spirit has to be our own. You can listen to great worship music and subscribe to the best podcasts. You can fill your head with theological knowledge and know all of the apologetic arguments. You can go to church every time the doors are open. You can be in a community that is full of the Spirit. But you can’t ride on the coattails of someone else’s faith. You can’t borrow someone else’s relationship with the Holy Spirit, you have to go get your own.
I was saved, I had oil, but like the foolish maids I was settling for the bare minimum of what God had to offer me. Once I understood that the Holy Spirit wanted to be my friend and not just a friend of a friend, that changed everything for me. I began to cultivate a true relationship with Him. I cut out time to spend with Him by reading the Word that He inspired, being in the nature that He created and speaking to Him in prayer. I began asking questions and then learned to listen for a response. I began to learn His voice. He gave me dreams and visions. He whispered to my heart and breathed life into my darkest moments. He counseled me when I needed wise guidance. He spoke through me in tongues on multiple occasions. He allowed me to be a part of healing in others. Little by little He shows me more of His heart and it is absolutely captivating. He and I have inside jokes. He sends me what I call “winks” through specific signs that only He would know are significant to me. I can tell you in confidence that He is my closest friend. I am so in love with Him and I am so thankful that there is no end to knowing who He is. Our relationship truly began a decade ago now, but in so many ways I feel like it is just beginning. Our relationship will grow for an eternity, and there is nothing that brings me more delight than knowing that. I just wish someone would have told me about this part of Him sooner.
The majority of Christians only access a drop of the ocean He wants to give us of Himself. I think we easily forget who our God is. He is the most powerful force to have ever existed. He is like a genie in the lamp of your heart, waiting for you to let Him loose. He never forces Himself on us, but gives us the opportunity to know Him. Who wouldn’t want to know the one person who knows all the answers? The one who has the plan. The artist that designed you in His mind and breathed you into existence. The one who has already defeated the darkness that we are constantly surrounded by. The Bible says, “even the demons believe in God and shutter,” because they know His power. That is the kind of power He wants to give us access to. He wants to give you extra oil to burn through the night. He knows we can’t get through these last days without Him. Why would we want to? The devil is desperately clawing at whatever soul he can snag while he still has time. The Holy Spirit, who lives in us, has the power to do something about it.
If you believe the Holy Spirit is real but you don’t know where to start with having a relationship with Him, don’t be discouraged. When you asked God for forgiveness and accepted Him into your life, He automatically gave you the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is within you, closer than your skin. He is unbelievably kind, gentle and patient. He will never give you more than you can handle. Instead, He will give you a relationship that will grow as steady as you allow it to.
We are coming to an end of a spiritual war. We are all waiting on the bridegroom to come back for His bride. Don’t be foolish and try to borrow someone else’s oil. There is an abundant supply of Him, waiting to be discovered and experienced by you. Go get your own oil, and watch it light up your world in a time it needs it the most.