I’ve had a pretty decent amount of experience with communally-minded Christians. I’m not talking about Davidian compounds or socialist communes, more like the belief that most boundaries aren’t necessary between or among fellow believers. I’ve even met some people who espoused a kind of “What’s yours in Christ is mine in Christ” approach to fellowship. With the recent healing of my will, however, the Lord is really impressing upon me HIS boundaries for my life, especially as concerns my relationship with Him.
Martha has several teachings on the parable of The Ten Virgins, and they’re all rich and challenging, but there’s one thing that she touches on in each that I didn’t fully grasp before now: the demand of the unprepared that the wise give them oil.
But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ Matthew 25:6-9 NASB
I didn’t really like to think about this scenario, because at the time I was studying it, my will was compromised and I dreaded the very thought of such a situation. I clung to the idea that when it really counted, I would be able to stand firm, but deep down I knew that I probably wouldn’t. I’d been my own worst enemy for years and knew well the toll that each seemingly minor violation of my person had taken. Apart from miraculous deliverance, you don’t just suddenly stop compromising yourself when it’s become your very character.
So I stayed in the shallow end where this parable was concerned, but the way this demand for oil plays out can be much more subtle. It happens all the time, and it’s often called Godly. For example, it’s not unusual to meet another Christian for the first time and have them ask for your testimony in the first two minutes. And what’s wrong with that? How could there possibly be an issue with telling someone where you were when you were saved? Well, I guess it all depends on who’s the head of that conversation. If the Holy Spirit decides to tell my story to a perfect stranger, that’s great. But if I tell my story because someone demands it and I don’t want to offend them and it’s not a big secret anyway so what does it matter, even though the Spirit is quietly twisting my gut with His “No,” I’ve just given oil that the Spirit wanted me to keep.
This is an example that the Spirit gave me, but I’m NOT, absolutely NOT saying that if you’ve ever asked someone to share their story then you’re a foolish virgin or an oil pirate. The Holy Spirit can and does ask questions and there’s no problem there. What the Lord’s impressing upon me with this scenario is that I’m no longer my own AT ALL. There’s no such thing as innocuously moving outside of the Spirit. My story, like everything else I am and have, is now His. If He decides that He doesn’t want me to share my testimony, then that’s His line to draw, His boundary to set, His call to make. I can let Him love me in that way, in that moment, or I can say, “No, God. You’re being unreasonable and it’s such a small thing and I don’t want to appear to be unkind.”
And He’ll let me say no! He absolutely will. But disobedience can become a habit, like anything else, and the next thing you know, you’ve left the Light and are lost in the Dark. That’s why even the smallest move outside of His will, His boundary for me, is huge. And that’s what the Spirit showed me. God’s will is my boundary, and it’s unlike any boundary I’ve ever set or experienced before. It moves without warning, stands inexplicably, and widens or shrinks as it wants.
This is the very heart of my relationship with Him – trusting ever more deeply, obeying ever more quickly, and resting ever more fully in the absolute surety of His Love. This is everything to me. If I lose all else in my life, I still have all of Him. That’s worth a few ruffled feathers.