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“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.  Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.  The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps.  The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
~ Matthew 25:1-13

I know that I have mentioned how much of a non-morning person I am.  So you have to know, getting my little boy and myself out of the house at 6:35 every weekday morning is something of a feat to behold.  And being a night owl, I like to set my alarm as late as I can and hit snooze a few times before flying out of bed to get ready at warp speed.

Now, sleeping in as late as possible comes with a price.  It means I have only exactly enough time to get ready, not a minute more.  Typically, I get myself ready, get my little guy up, feed him, and go rocketing out the door.  But yesterday, for whatever reason, I did everything backwards.  Instead of getting myself ready first, I got up and took care of my little one first.  Which ended up with me still in my pajamas and him all ready to go – when the clock ticked over to 6:35.  Not good.  So we ended up leaving later than I’d planned – simply because I decided not to take care of myself first.

It reminded me of being on an airplane, when the flight attendant is giving all the instructions at the beginning of the flight.  They always tell you that if cabin pressure drops, oxygen masks will appear from overhead compartments.  But they always, always tell you to put your own mask on first before trying to help someone else.  Because if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to help anyone else.

There are many verses in the Bible that illustrate the importance of being prepared and taking care of yourself first.  Because in the end, you will answer to God for only your own actions, not those of others.  This parable of the ten virgins demonstrates this very clearly.  The five wise virgins were prepared and took care of themselves.  When the bridegroom came, they were ready for him.  But the foolish ones were hoping that someone else would be able to help them out, because they hadn’t bothered to prepare for themselves.

I think this applies to a number of things in the Christian walk – especially when it comes to things like making sure you stay spiritually fed.  So often we busy ourselves taking care of other people, all the while neglecting our own spiritual wellbeing.  This is a dangerous habit to fall into, because it results in actions that are fueled by our own energy, instead of God’s.  We need Him to be the center of all we do – and the supplier of our strength in order to continue serving Him.

So take time today to take care of yourself and your walk with God.  It will give you the ability to be a light to others in ways you never have before.