Sometimes, living in a different culture can be a real adventure! Last week, we noticed that the water at the kitchen sink wasn’t getting hot anymore. Upon checking at other locations in the house, it appeared to be an isolated problem. Mark said, “That’s really strange. It’s only at the kitchen sink!” Later that night, he cranked up the sauna and went downstairs to relax. He came up a bit later and said, “Well, it’s not just the kitchen sink. We have no hot water.” It seemed that the heating oil in our tank had run out without us even realizing that it was low.
We went through appropriate channels to see what we could do about arranging for an oil delivery. Mark faced answers such as: “I’m sorry; your credit check has not been completed.” “In order to fill your order, you have to prepay.” After facing one roadblock after another, we resorted to calling the relocation agency office in hopes that they could assist us. Thankfully, the problem has been rectified, and heating oil will be delivered during the upcoming week.
Cold showers are not fun. Neither are sponge baths (which can’t really be considered baths, since we don’t have a bathtub). Washing the dishes in cold water just doesn’t feel right (my momma taught me better than that). Are we complaining? No. It’s just a fact of life. We are learning how long a specific amount of oil will last. Are we glad that it waited until 80-degree (28+C) weather to run out? Absolutely! The Finnish winter was bitterly cold at times, and to be without oil then would have made for a much more miserable existence. At least cold water feels good when one is sweating!
There is one thing that we could have done to avoid our problem. We could have kept track of the oil level in our tank. If we’d done this, we wouldn’t be dealing with the subsequent results.
How many times do we let our spiritual oil run dry? “I don’t feel so good. I think I’ll stay home today. Nobody at church will miss me, anyway.” “God will understand if I skip prayer-time today.” “I can catch up on my Bible reading tomorrow.” “There’s probably not even a church in the city where we are vacationing. It will be okay to miss.” “We don’t know those people anyway. We won’t feel comfortable.” “No one even knows us here. It doesn’t matter if we worship today or not.” “I worked hard this week; I deserve a break.”
In the past, I’ve been guilty of nearly every excuse that I just mentioned. But, over the past decade, I’ve come to rely more and more on my daily time with God. Now, if our schedule cuts into my daily devotion time, I really miss it, and the day just doesn’t “go” the same. God is my lifeline. The level of spiritual oil in my tank determines whether I am just maintaining at status quo, or if I’m growing in my walk with God. It establishes if I am “overcoming” or “just surviving.” Keeping the spiritual oil of the Spirit flowing in my life helps me hear God’s voice more clearly. It keeps His gifts operating in my life. To not have His oil—the anointing— active in my life is to be spiritually dead. For me, that is not an option.
“Then shall the kingdom of Heaven be likened to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. The foolish ones took their lamps, but 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 comes! Go out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, Give us some of your oil, for our lamps have gone out. But the wise answered, saying, No, lest there be not enough for us and you. But rather go to those who sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came. And they who were ready went in with him to the marriage, and the door was shut. Afterwards the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Truly I say to you, I do not know you.” (Matthew 25:1-12)
Is spending time with Him a priority? Is praying until we feel His presence—His anointing—something that we strive for every day? Or, do we rely on the oil from other people’s lives, draining their oil—their virtue—rather than seeking to gain our own? Do we need someone to pray with us in order to feel like we’ve touched God? Are we able to even pray long enough to get past our wants, my needs, and give Him the adoration that He deserves?
‘So I will sing praise to Your name forever, so that I may daily pay my vows.” (Psalm 61:8)
“And He said to all, If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me”. (Luke 9:23)
“But exhort one another daily, while it is called today, lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.” (Hebrews 3:13)
A lack of oil leads to a life lacking in fruitfulness, which ultimately plays with my eternal destination. And, for me, that is not an option.