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Above All Else, Get Oil: Introduction

Updated: Jul 8

Over the next few to many weeks, I will be writing about this most important subject: Getting Oil in our Lamps Above All Else. This project was intended to be a book and very well one day might be. But the hour is now and I feel I shouldn't wait. So join me here as each week I post another thought about obtaining eternal oil in our lamps.


 

When I was a preschooler, my family attended a small church located just over the rickety train tracks, past the country gas-station, and right next to the only apartment building in our rural town.  Needless to say, it wasn’t the church that was fashioned as the central temple in our tiny community. It had no grand steeple. It had no plush carpet. The simple sanctuary walls were lined with wood paneling and the pews matched their russet edifice while offering no padding of comfort. The entire building was unassuming, undecorated, and unimpressive - all except for one lone mural. Yes, the only true artistry I can remember in that place was the one muralled wall located in the room that doubled as a Sunday School classroom and Fellowship Hall. This wall, beautifully painted with rich blues and golds, told the story of the wise and foolish virgins described in Matthew chapter 25.  I vividly remember this painting as I often studied these women starting back at me. Each woman glided towards a doorway where Jesus awaited, and each held a single lamp – a lamp that very much resembled a genie’s home in my imagination. However, bright golden flames rested on the tips of only half of these shiny lamps; the rest had no flame at all. I remember sitting next to that wall with the other children in my Sunday School class and singing the song, “Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning.” I had no idea what I was really singing at the time, but as I sang this simple song, I would look at that pictured wall and into the eyes of the women whose lamps burned bright with an abundant supply of oil. The stark contrast to the other women who had no flame was noticeable, even to my young eyes. And as I studied these wise women’s faces, I sang -

 

     “Give me oil in my lamp. Keep me burning.”

 

I knew this song was a prayer to Jesus.

 

    “Give me oil in my lamp, I pray.”

 

I knew it was a prayer these wise women with the burning lamps had made.

 

   “Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning. Keep me burning ‘till the break of day.”

 

And I knew as I sang those words and studied the mural, that having a lamp that burned bright was way more attractive to the eyes then one that didn’t. I knew then that I wanted a lamp that burned like those wise women: a lamp that would burn and burn until the break of day.

 

Little did I know then that this desire would become the theme of my life.

 

Just as I didn’t fully understand the words to the song I sang as a child – give me oil in my lamp and keep me burning -  I didn’t understand how those words were becoming woven into my spiritual DNA; how this theme of getting oil in my lamp was the song the Maker was composing with every ‘yes’ of my heart towards Him. It’s not as if I would stop in a trying moment and say, “This is it! This is the answer to my prayer to keep burning!” It’s not as though I felt a well of oil springing up in my heart with every act of obedience to the Lord. On the contrary - usually I felt as far from the flame as possible. Many times, I was crying out in holy desperation feeling nothing from God at all. And yet it was in those moments of darkness, I believe, that the cry to get oil and to burn brightly was being answered more than at any other moment.

 

It’s the same for all the wise in the body of Christ: we don’t always know when God is producing oil in us. We can’t always tell when He is stoking the fire of our heart. But with every single, “Yes,” of our will towards him, with every “yes” to obey and believe His word and His ways, the Spirit of God is working in us to produce a harvest of oil. And in a world of increasing darkness, we need an abundant harvest of oil. Why? Because oil is fuel for the fire, and we must be the ones found with burning lamps when Jesus returns (Matthew 25). If oil sustains us until He comes, then I want an excessive supply. Above all else, I want to get oil in my lamp and the way it is acquired is most often through the mundane and through suffering.

 

Through the pain, if you give him your, “Yes,” you will be rewarded with oil.

 

Through the dry seasons, if you give him your, “Yes,” you will be rewarded with oil.

 

This is the theme of the wise believer’s life: to above all, get oil in my lamp through the power of the Holy Spirit. It is the cry of wisdom, the cry of the lovesick, the cry of the bride. Will you join me and countless others all over the earth in lifting up the cry that is resounding to Jesus in this hour? It’s the cry that Revelation 22 sums up in one phrase: Come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 22:17). Will you join me in the cry to be like the wise virgins who found the secret to gaining an excess of oil? It’s not often the popular who cry for it. It’s not often the famous, the comfortable, or the brave. It is most often found on the lips of the trembling and unadorned. Much like the little church of my childhood, the song of desperation is often lifted in the hallways of the hearts of the nameless, faceless, unassuming ones. But if you say, ‘yes’ to this desperation, you, too, will find the Maker weaving into your being the words that echoed in my church as a child: Give me oil in my lamp. Keep me burning. Keep me burning until the break of Day.



 

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