By Matt Redmond
I have been reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy as I do every autumn (and every spring). Each time I read this story, I see new things in it and in the world I live in.
I love the scenes in the White City of Minas Tirith, described in The Return of the King. The fortress has become a kind of capital city of the kingdom of Gondor. Many dwell there, and when we, as readers arrive, there is the dread of war upon the city. Gondor is a kingdom with no king. Only a steward.
There are those who wait expectantly for the king and his kingdom. They are assailed by the enemy, Sauron, and hope is at a premium. They long for the return of the king—the king who has been foretold and will return to reign.
No one knows when he will return, so they are always waiting. But not the steward.
He does not wait for the king expectantly. He trusts his own leadership and what he has seen to guide him. He is in despair about the world around him. He has no hope in the face of his enemies.
And even as the fresh wind of rumor of the long-awaited king is felt, he sees such a claim on the throne as a threat to his own power and will. And rather than place any confidence in the rightful king, he takes his own life.
When, Aragorn, the king does show up, he does so in the darkest of nights!
In today’s passage, when I read the parable of the ten virgins as a description of what the kingdom of heaven is like, I cannot help but think about the king, Aragorn, coming to Minas Tirith. None of the virgins expected the groom to come in the middle of the night. But some were ready. No one knew the day or hour, but some were truly alert, waiting.
So how do we wait as those who are alert?
We stay alert for the coming of Jesus, our King. We give our attention to him via prayer and the scriptures that tell of His return. And we do this day in and day out. We put our confidence in Him even when the days are evil and the night is black as midnight. We pledge our allegiance to Him and rejoice that the throne belongs to Him and Him alone.