Scripture Reflections: A New Thing

My Bible was open on my lap the first time I heard Jesus say my name. No, it wasn't an audible voice; I heard it in the quiet recesses of my heart. This encounter with Jesus changed me forever, and looking back, I realize it also revealed a simple but profound truth: God wants to speak to me. And He wants me to hear Him.

If you’re reading these words, He wants the same for you.

But how do we begin? And how do we differentiate His Voice from our own or that of the world? Well … how do we recognize anyone’s voice?

My name is Jennifer. It was the single most popular girl name in the 1970s. Growing up I quickly learned that turning around each time I heard it would leave me dizzy. But if my mom or dad called it, I had better respond! Knowing when to acknowledge someone calling my name required that I not only hear others speak, but also identify the speaker—even when I couldn’t see who was speaking. Of course, no one intentionally memorizes the sound of their parents’ voices; we learn them through repeated exposure. And this sort of “learning through exposure” is exactly what God invites us to with Him.

“Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit.” CCC 81

Why am I telling you this?

Well, sometimes as I pray with Scripture, God reveals much more than will fit in the margin of my Bible. And while I am a big fan of writing in your Bible, I’m still too Type-A to squeeze a bunch of words in a small space where they just won’t fit! So, I’ve decided to record these reflections in a Substack page.  (If you're not familiar with Substack, it is an email newsletter platform. You can subscribe to have the reflections emailed to you, download the Substack app to read there, or read on the Substack webpage itself.)

To be honest, the purpose of these reflections is a little embarrassing, as I still regularly forget the promises He makes to me. For example, He reminds me regularly that He is good and that His plans are for me. But as soon as I find myself walking through a storm I didn't plan, I struggle to remember this simple truth. He and I are both hoping that writing these reflections will help me remember!

Each reflection will include whatever God is whispering into my heart. I may also include a bit of historical context. And I hope to always answer two additional questions:
     *What does the passage tell me about God?
     *What does the passage tell me about me?

My first Scripture reflection is live on Substack now. I've also included it below. In the future, Scripture reflections will be separate from my regular blog. If you’d like them emailed to you, click here to subscribe.

Why subscribe? Well, why not? I regularly read Scripture commentaries and reflections from others, and sometimes it opens the door for God to speak to me in ways I never imagined. Who knows? Maybe God has the same plans for you. I promise not to clutter your inbox, but perhaps together we can learn–and remember–who God is and what He says of us.

Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving! 
And as always, I’m praying God breathes life into these words—




The Parable of the Ten Bridesmaids (Matthew 25:1-13)

Then the kingdom of heaven will be like this. Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. When the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, all of them became drowsy and slept.

But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Look! Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those bridesmaids got up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise replied, ‘No! there will not be enough for you and for us; you had better go to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy it, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went with him into the wedding banquet; and the door was shut. Later the other bridesmaids came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I do not know you.’ Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.


 Section of Matthew often referred to as the eschatological discourse. Jesus is speaking to His disciples in private about events connected with the end of the age and the (unknown) time when He will return. He is calling His disciples–and me–to reflect on how I am living my life.

Upon first read I’m tempted to simplify the words into instructions to plan ahead and be prepared. Why? Because I’m good at this. I can make a list and check off boxes like nobody’s business! If all that matters is how well I can pack items I’ll need for the day or for a trip, then I can reassure myself with how well I’m doing.

I’m also struck by what initially feels like the uncharitable response of the 5 maidens who brought extra oil: Why wouldn’t they share? I mean, sharing is good. Right?

Obviously, if I stick with this superficial take-away, I’ve missed the point. Jesus’ concern is not how well I can prepare for a trip. He didn’t tell half of the maidens they couldn’t enter because they packed poorly or weren’t prepared.

No. He clearly told them they couldn’t enter because He didn’t know them.

The oil:
I initially questioned why the maidens didn’t share their oil … but what if it’s something that can’t be shared? Because on second glance I see every maiden in this story was ultimately responsible for securing her own oil.

What do we know about the oil?
  • It is needed at midnight–which means it is needed in times of darkness.
  • It is required to light the lamps–which means we only experience light when we have it.
  • It appears it can not be shared.
  • It appears things work better when it is secured before it is even needed (before it is dark).
  • Those with oil were considered wise; those without were considered foolish.
  • Those with oil were somehow known by the Lord; and those without were not.

The women:
All of the women went through the motions; all of the women showed up. It seems all the women, at least on some level, wanted to go to the banquet. It’s reasonable to think they all readied themselves for the night, selecting their clothing and checking their appearance. They all gathered what they thought was needed, and they all traveled to the right place. And yet, these things - desiring it, looking the part, doing the right things, going to the right places, spending time with others who want the same thing - were clearly not enough to get them into the banquet.

All of the women experienced a period of waiting. We are told the bridegroom was delayed. And the fact that half the women ran out of oil tells us this delay was not expected. Could Jesus be revealing that periods of waiting–even though unplanned and often unwanted–aren't so unexpected?

Who hasn’t found themself in a period of waiting … for an appointment or test results? For some piece of info needed to take the next step and plan the future? For an interview, a job offer, or a financial breakthrough? For a loved one to finally come to know Jesus? Waiting, waiting, waiting…

I wonder … during this unplanned period of waiting were the women faced with the same unanswered questions as when we are waiting: Why is this taking so long? How much longer can we go on like this? Have we been forgotten? Does He even care?

All of the women experienced fatigue! And all of the women rested! And let me not miss this: Resting did not lead to consequences!

After being awakened at midnight, all of the women suddenly found themselves sitting in darkness. And when this happened, not one of the women, on their own, could dispel the darkness that surrounded them. They were all dependent on oil to light their lamps.

One day I will stand face to face with Jesus. What will He say when He looks at me? Will I be admitted into the wedding banquet? Or will He say that He doesn’t know me?

Do I make myself known to Jesus? Do I share with Him all that’s in my heart–my hopes and dreams, my hurts and struggles, my gratitude and praise, all of the little and big things? Because if I’m not taking time to do just this (also known as prayer!) then perhaps the answer will be no.

Securing my own oil–my own relationship with Jesus–must be a priority. Always. I must let Him see me as I get to know Him. Relying on the oil of others is not an option. And while the oil can be obtained during dark times, per this parable, securing the oil when it’s not yet dark makes a huge difference. Without this oil, I will remain in the dark. Without a relationship with Jesus, I may not have a seat at the banquet.

What does this passage tell me about God?
God is a good Father. He has not dropped me into this sometimes confusing and painful world with no direction on how to get Home. Rather, He has laid an open invitation with clear instructions before me. But He loves me too much to force anything upon me. The choice of how to respond is mine.

He has made it known that I should expect those unwanted periods of waiting and even periods of darkness. Can I allow myself to be reassured by this advance notice? He has also shown that I need not question how to experience light when they arrive. I need only make sure that I am securing my oil before my world feels dark.

What does this passage tell me about me?
I am wanted at the banquet. Or to simplify it: I am wanted.

But will I own this? Will I receive it?
Will I remember it when my world is dark? When I’m in a prolonged period of waiting? Or when my emotions scream otherwise?

And sitting with all of this, how will I respond?
And how will you?


To have Scripture reflections such as these emailed to you, tap the button below:


Popular Posts