(by Bill Lucas)

At age16 I faced some good news, and some badThe good news: I was about to get a driver’s license and would soon have my mobility increased considerably.   I was part of the “IN CROWD” at school, and was going steady with the girl I had admired since we had been in the first grade together.  I lived in a part of Southern California where the beaches, mountains, desert, and innumerable beautiful valleys were within an hours drive from my home, and I planned to see them all.  The bad news:  My father had just been transferred to Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and I would now have to leave all the good news behind.

As things turned out I was placed in a school with some very interesting young people.  They obviously had potential to become great friends, but they had been warned that Californians were strange, and I was treated accordingly.  Eventually though, we got together and had some great times.  In spite of this, I kept the thought of returning to California in the back of my mind, and at age 21, I did just that.

Upon arrival I was faced with some good news, and some bad.  The good news:  The countryside was just as I had remembered it.  The aroma of orange blossoms delighted my senses.  Many large orange groves still decorated the cities of San Bernardino and Loma Linda.  The San Bernardino Mountains still rose majestically above the valley floor to the east, north and northwest, and now I could explore these as originally planned, right down to the finest most obscure trail and ravine.  The best news: Most of my friends were still in town.  The bad news:  Several of them had gotten into trouble with the law and had spent some time in Jail and / or prison.  Some had begun to experiment with drugs.  I will spare you the details. .  One of the girls from my class had married a man merely to get away from her home.  Her husband, by whom she bore three children ended up in jail for killing someone, and suddenly she had become a single mother.  When I and some of the old “in crowd” went to visit she thanked us but said she wasn’t the same person she used to be, and that we need not come by again.  She told us that we could not have the friendship we used to have.  All of the innocence was gone.  What a sad experience.

The year was spent working at a couple of drive-through grocery stores, and having a great time doing it.  I met just about everybody in town at one time or another, and had many experiences and opportunities to make important decisions as to which direction my life would go.

One evening, while attending a program of gymnastics, health talks and music with a rather stunning young lady, my train of thought was interrupted by a brief vision.   It was as though two television screens were suspended in mid air, about six feet in front of me, and a voice was telling me about options.  One picture showed me drinking alcohol and doing occasional drugs with my friends.  It was not a pretty picture.  I was shown the sorrow that this option would bring to those close to me.  The other picture portrayed me giving my heart and life to God.  I was shown a beautiful wife and home with children, and I could feel the love within this vision.  Then, the voice warned me that I could not have it both ways.  I must decide, which way to go, and the decision must be made immediately.  Fortunately, I chose God’s way that night, and have had no regrets about that decision, although a few bad choices were yet made.

In reflecting on these things, I realized that my bad news had actually turned into good news.  For in missing the environment in California for 5 years I had avoided tempting opportunities to get into trouble.  In San Antonio I played my guitar and read the newspaper for entertainment (My parents did not have a television).  I rode my 10-speed bicycle, but only in a restricted area near my home.  The results: I avoided trouble, learned many songs on my guitar, and acquired many new friends.

In the context of making good decision early in life, I consider the following story about 10 young women, or virgins as they are referred to in Matthew 25:1-13.

Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them.  But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.  But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.  But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.

Verse 5 says they all slept.  Outwardly they were all the same.  Only in preparation did they differ.  Verses 8 and 9 indicate that the oil could not be shared.  This is something to be remembered.  Verses 10-12 show the sad part of the story.  The bridegroom came.  The door was shut, and there was no possible entrance for the 5 foolish (unprepared) virgins.  It was final.  There was no second chance.  Verse 13 warns us to watch, for we do not know the hour of the bridegroom’s return.

I would like to suggest to you that at midnight those virgins received some good news and some bad news.  The good news:  the bridegroom (representing the Blessed Savior, Jesus) had arrived.  The bad news:  Five of the ten young ladies were not ready.  They had no oil in their lamps.  Unlike my story, however, in which good news actually came from the bad, this story merely ended with a proclamation, a final sentence upon the foolish virgins who had not sought oil while opportunity was with them.   When the door was shut there was to be no good news, no entrance for them, ever.

The lesson for us, in this story, is that the time to buy oil is now, and if we only buy a small amount of oil, we will not be allowed into the wedding celebration (Heaven).  When the time to buy is past, it will be forever past.  Notice the finality of the pronouncement as made in the following New Testament passage (Revelation 22:11-14).

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

This passage of scripture warns that a time is coming when it will be forever too late to change your course and allow your bad news to turn to good.  Now is the time to decide. Let God change those things in your life that you cannot change on your own.  Prepare, before the time of real bad news comes.

Bill Lucas is a spiritual pillar of our local church serving as an Elder. He is is a retired nurse still committed to serve those in need. We are all inspried by his passion and love for the Lord.