I ran out of gas this morning. How utterly irresponsible of me. I knew I was low yesterday on my way home. Why didn't I get any last night? I was tired I guess. How can I make sure this never happens again? After all, this is the first time I've ever run out of gas. Miraculously, I had my bike in the back of the car. It made the 2 mile-long sojourn to the gas station and back a lot more enjoyable. And quicker. Where am I going with this? Well, nowhere without any gas. And please dispense with the trade-your-car-for-gas-money jokes. The analogy here is obvious. Because, let's face it: as Jesus said, it is "given unto you (us) to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God" (Matthew 13:11). In many sectors, the church is running on fumes. Or the needle's sitting on empty. In my car, that's nothing to be alarmed about though. Turns out the needle needs to go far down–maybe an eighth of an inch–below the empty line before it coughs and sputters to a stop. I know this now. And that's good news. But spiritually, when things are this low, is our spiritual acuity even active at all? When Jesus told the parable of the five wise and five foolish virgins waiting for the bridegroom and the subsequent commencement of the marriage feast, he used oil and lanterns as parallels for the Holy Spirit. And ourselves as His containment vessels. See what I did there? I moved from gas to oil. (When are we, as a country going to move from gas to something else? A debate for someone else.) Follow me here. When the five foolish virgins were found wanting, not knowing what it'd take to wait and not being willing, either, they lamented to the wise ones and asked to borrow of their oil. The five wise virgins, it says, responded thus: "Go to them that sell and buy for yourselves" (Matthew 25:9). A bold statement, no? What does it take to get the oil of the Holy Spirit? It costs something. And if we feel stagnant and torpid, I'd have to say that we're at least sitting on empty.
Now, forgive me for going all over the place with my allusions but Psalm 104 (vs. 15) says that God will give us oil. "To make our face to shine", it says. It's ours if we'll humble ourselves to ask. But first we'll have to admit that we're not getting anywhere. That takes guts. One way to jump start the process is to worship the Lord and be grateful. Proverbs 13:9 says "the light of the righteous rejoices". Get a move on.
As an aside, on my way back from the gas station, the song "Red Barchetta" by Rush shuffled onto my iPod. It's a narrative about a young boy living in the future, in a time when cars have been outlawed. The song opens with the boy on his way to his uncle's farm to take an illegal joyride in an ancient Ferrari. A fantastic chase scene ensues. But what stood out to me was the impracticality and implausibility of keeping a car in your garage for "50-odd years"–full of gas. And oil for that matter. How ironic.