Residual Oil

I was at work last week and a very peculiar thing happened. But first, just a bit of background.

I run a Finn Power machine at work. The express bender in the playlist (which you see if you clicked the link) is a newer version, but you get the idea. Mine uses hydraulic oil to run all the parts.

So, last week, the machine started leaking oil all over the panels. We found a leak in a steel pipe that makes up a part of the hydraulic line. After we thought we fixed it, we started the machine back up to check and make sure it was fixed. If it was, it wouldn’t leak. If not, it would. When the machine started bending parts, there was oil on the parts still and I said something that made me think about my relationship with God.

“What if that’s old oil from the leak and it’s not leaking now but that’s residual oil?” They asked me what I meant.

“How do we know if that’s old oil or new oil?”

It reminded me of that story in the bible about the ten virgins that brought oil in their oil lamps, but five of them didn’t bring any new oil to put in when the old oil ran out.

The idea that we all need new oil in the lamp to be ready for the groom to come can be sobering if we really focus on the ways it relates to us. Are we relying on residual oil from yesterdays’ refill? Is that enough or will our light go out before He gets here? Have we refilled our lamp today?

It may be hard to tell, since the wick can burn without the oil, just not for very long. We can pretend to be Christian. We can find ourselves just going through a ritual of repetition so it looks like the lamp is burning, but there’s no oil inside. Sometimes I find myself praying the same words as I pray every time I pray. It wasn’t until just recently that I realized I say them ritualistically, as if the mere mention of the words were suppose to oblige God to respond. We know better than that, though. The Lord searches the heart, not just the action. We go to church for what reason? To fulfill our Christian duty and try to oblige God to give us a promotion at work? Sometimes it feels like it. Let’s be honest. How often do we go to church and find ourselves not paying attention to the preaching or the singing? Maybe we’re not really praying? Or maybe it’s just been me. We put our church faces on at church, but it’s not a true reflection of who we are or what we feel inside. Are we just burning the wick without the oil?

Perhaps there is some leftover oil in the lamp that isn’t soaking into the wick. You know it’s there, but it’s just not connecting with the wick. You know, when you can look into an oil lamp and see that there is some oil left but you still need to refill it anyway? Here’s another example: soda from McDonald’s. There is some Dr. Pepper left in the cup, but you have to tilt it just right or push the straw down through the ice a little more to get to it. It’s that same effect that causes a lamp to have the tiniest bit of oil, but still not light the lamp. I’m talking about people who go to church and they know God is calling them, or they feel the tug He gives us all, but can’t respond. You take solace in the fact that You can feel Him and that He still loves you, and maybe sometimes you go to the altar to pray, but when you go home it’s hard to motivate yourself to do anything more than shoot a small prayer or read a couple verses every day – if you do even that at all.

There’s no condemnation here, because I have been there and revisit more often than I’d like to, but we can’t afford to lie to ourselves anymore.

I know I’ve kinda zig-zagged my way to this conclusion, but this is the point of this post:

Is the oil in your lamp old, residual oil or is it new oil? It’s time to be ready.