On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, nine ladies dancing.
I’ve heard many parents complain about how difficult it is to get their children to church on Sunday mornings. I’ve had the same experiences. I yell upstairs, Are you ready? No response. Someone comes downstairs, and I ask the questions: Have you brushed your teeth? Are your socks clean? Do you have your Bible? I find that many times my children are sort of ready, but not completely ready.
Imagine if I were to say to my children on Saturday night, we’re leaving for church in the morning. I don’t give a time or a wake-up call. (After all, they are old enough to set alarms and get themselves dressed.) Then, when I’m ready to go to church, I beckon for them to come. If they’re ready, they come. If not, I leave anyway.
The true love’s gift was nine ladies dancing. It reminds me of a story of ten ladies in Matthew 25. The story of the ten virgins is a parable that Jesus told to remind his followers (which includes us) of the coming Kingdom of God, that one day he would return to Earth. This parable is sandwiched between like-minded stories that teach the same lesson: Be ready. You don’t know when the Kingdom will come.
In the parable, the ten virgins (brides, young maidens) wait for their groom to arrive. Evidently, he takes a very long time and they go to sleep. At midnight, they hear someone yelling that the groom has arrived. It’s dark outside, and this was before flashlights and flashlight apps. So, the ladies grab their oil lamps. Some lamps are out of oil, so those who did not bring extra oil ask those who were prepared with extra oil to help. They refuse, telling the five ill-prepared virgins to go buy some.
You can guess what happens, when the groom arrives, the five prepared brides entered the wedding feast, while the others were at the store to buy extra oil. When they returned, it was too late. The door was shut, and they were not allowed into the wedding feast.
The point is this: We should be prepared. We should have our stuff together. While this doesn’t mean that we store up extra flammable substances, it does mean to be ready.
I’ve known people who said they they will go to church, become Christians, and follow the teachings of Jesus when they get older. They think that they have time to play and make youthful decisions. But, according to Jesus, you know neither the day nor the hour, (Matthew 25:13, ESV). We should not put off following the teachings of Jesus until we get older. What if he returns, and we’re not following him? It may be too late.
So, don’t wait to take your children to church until you think that they are old enough to understand, until they are in preschool, until your family’s schedule settles down, until you have a free weekend, until (insert your favorite excuse). We make time for what we value.
By waiting, you are putting your family at risk of not learning the teachings of Jesus (unless you teach them enough at home). By waiting to apply the teachings of Jesus at home, you are putting your family’s future at risk. Do the right thing. Choose to follow Jesus (and get ready for his return) today.
On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me nine ladies dancing, eight maids a-milking, seven swans a-swimming, six geese a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree.