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Don’t be a fool

Wanda Smith's column from this week's edition of The Moose Jaw Express
On the Front Porch by Wanda Smith

Recently, I read an engaging children’s book titled Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, a John Newberry Medal winner. This historical novel is about a young man who excelled in mathematics but was forced to quit school to help his father in the family business during hard economic times. Written by Jean Lee Latham, this book is based on the life of the real Nathaniel Bowditch who wrote The American Practical Navigator, first published in 1772, also known as the Sailor’s Bible that is still in print today. There are countless examples in the book of Nat’s determination to persevere under hard times, persistence in learning difficult academic material and living his life in service to society. It is an incredibly riveting story that inspired me to develop strong character qualities that he displayed. 

In reading this novel, it gave me an appreciation of the life of a sailor. I have never had an interest in seas and sailing yet I grew in knowledge and great respect for those who sailed (and still sail) to deliver goods as well as protect our countries. In the days of Nathaniel Bowditch, there were many important jobs on ships. One of those essential jobs was the occupation of a “lamp trimmer.” Did you know the term “lights out” came from when the time was strictly enforced for candles and oil lamps to be distinguished at night as a precautionary measure against fire? Early on, whale oil was burned, which is likely what would’ve burned in Bowditch’s days. The lamp trimmer could never be lazy; he was a very knowledgeable seaman who walked in the utmost integrity, keeping the wicks trimmed and working in all situations.

This brings me to thinking of the parable in the Word of God about the 10 virgins. Read about it in Matthew 25:1-13. I woke up with this on my heart a few mornings ago. It was a loving warning and challenge to me (and to you) to renew our commitment to being led of the Spirit in these last days. Notice there were 10 virgins (symbolizing that they all had made a commitment to be the Bride of Christ) but five of them were ill-prepared, not having enough oil when the Bridegroom showed up. (Those five virgins were called fools.) The Holy Spirit is symbolized by oil in the scriptures. We are to be wise; full of the Spirit in these last days... filled up each day; spending time in His presence, drawing from Him. 

These days are the last of the last days. These are the days we need to be able to hear the voice of God to know how to go about our day; how to live, where to go and even what words to speak. One of my life prayers is “Lord, have me at the right place doing the right things with the right people at the right time.” These are the days we need to keep the oil stores replenished (stay filled up with the Holy Spirit). Praying in the Spirit, reading the Word, meditating on His promises and walking by faith are all parts of our arsenal in these uncertain days. The Holy Spirit brings revelation (spiritual understanding) and gives us power to minister (spread the good news of Jesus).  

The time is near.  Let’s be the five wise maidens who keep our lamps trimmed and burning. “This is the reason you should always stay awake and be alert, because you don’t know the day or hour when the Bridegroom will appear.” Matthew 25:13 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication.  

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