Five Wise, Five Foolish

virginsMatthew 25 tells a parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins. In the tale all ten of them are waiting for the bridegroom to turn up. It seems that this bridegroom doesn’t come at the time expected. In fact he is very late. Five of them had come without anything extra just in case and others had come with more oil just in case. When he did finally arrive the ones who had only got enough oil had run out but the others had enough left, though were reluctant to share. What struck me today was that all ten had come prepared but some were more prepared than others.
I am just starting a new project with my church and have been pondering it and how it will fit in with the other things that I do and want to do. How often do I take just enough because I am hoping it will be over quickly, or that I can get someone else to carry it for a while?
Last weekend I had a fun trip up to London to catch up with an old friend, see Moominland hero1600x630-22069-3520moomins20new20website20image-0120-1and see my daughter. Even though it was great fun it was still a very long day. Then on the Sunday I went to help out on Gwrych Castle open day, which again was enormous fun but tiring. Then in the week I had a meeting, a workshop every evening and every day, and a couple of other things going on. A very full diary. This weekend thankfully it has been calm and quiet, and last night husband was away and I had no guests staying. I am almost recovering. When I was in my 20s and 30s I could have breezed through this, but now it has taken a whole week to recover and I still feel a bit exhausted. I had enough but nothing left over.
I often wonder if not just church but the world helps us with this. Youth and the energy of youth is worshipped almost and the wisdom of the grey hairs not so much. But where are the teachings about slowing down, about knowing when your oil is running out. In fact in 1churches I’ve been to there has been much preached on making sure you always have that extra oil. Yes I totally understand that, but I need to know what I now need to cut out so that I have oil left over.
I do think this is as much about knowing your limitation as about making sure you have something in reserve. I wonder what the reasoning was with the five virgins who didn’t bring spare oil to wait? Maybe they’d given it to someone who didn’t have any? Had helped out a neighbour? Been somewhere else beforehand whilst the “wise” had been sitting and waiting? Maybe the “wise” had just come straight from the oil seller and so were able to carry some spare? Maybe the “foolish” had back problems? Didn’t have spare money?
I often push myself harder than I should because of concerns about money, about a job needing to be done, about helping and supporting other people, lots of other reasons. Take last weekend – why was I so busy? Because I wanted to see my friend and Moominland, and then was asked to help at a place I have fallen in love with and want to support. The things I do I do because they are things I love, ways I want to help and support others, things I get999071c3ea3bc8573eefb97f5ea3aa29 asked to do. All valid reasons.
So are we too harsh on the “foolish” virgins? Maybe we need to all be aware that too often we get swept into the role of helping, supporting, being there for others and just get too busy. Perhaps we need to pray more and do less?

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Enough Money

enoughmoneyWhat is enough? This fits in with my post on Success a while back.  What is enough money? I have always had enough money. I’ve never been really rich but have been really poor. I was on income support, the lowest level of benefit in the UK and yet I always had enough. It was in the days when one got a giro cheque and went to the Post Office to cash it. I would get it in small denominations and then have pots on shelf in my kitchen for various things; food, rent, electric, other household bills, clothes, books, trips and holidays. Holidays were always quite a priority. And I would put these little sums of money into these various pots and save up. We ate well and my kids were never hungry. I home schooled and they use to have swimming lessons and French lessons and we’d go off on trips and on holidays. In fact during this time we even went back packing around Greece. None of this was luxury. We had a railcard. We stayed in basic lodgings, ate basic food and had some fun. I had enough.

I have some friends who are in their late 40s/early 50s who have never had children, both piggy-bankworked in well paid jobs, have a house with land in Surrey/Hampshire, must have pensions – probably salary linked ones – and yet they worry about their retirement that they will not have enough. Yes they do go on holiday and have nice things but they worry. They don’t have enough. I also know people on benefits who don’t have enough, who get into debt, who’s children go hungry.

On both ends of the financial scale there are those who have enough and those who don’t. In this I am not condemning those with money or those without. Also I have not always been so content with money. There are times I lie in bed and night and worry about whether we will have enough if … And it is that “if”. In fact we were talking the other day and conversation moved round to “we should rent that other room if I’m not working any more.” But he is working and when/if he isn’t then we shall worry about it then. I suspect we will just change what we spend money on.

Well off is a state of mind not necessarily to do with how much money you have. As a follower of Jesus I think I should learn to be content with what I have, generous whether I 77d5537cfb83c3b1e0edb8a96cbe4c06have much or little. I’m not sure I am and sometimes when I have more then I worry about having enough more than when I have little.

What I would love to do is to know how to contain this feeling of satisfaction with what I have but also be able to pass it on to others.