"Just under the Wire"
July 29, 2016
(Jesus said) "And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, 'Lord, lord, open to us.' But he answered, 'Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.' Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." Matthew 25:10-13
On April 14, 2015, the State of New Jersey picked a lottery winner.
The winner had a year to come forward and claim the $470,000 amount that was being awarded. Amazingly, nobody came running into the lottery offices waving a ticket and yelling, "I've won! I've won!" That was surprising because New Jersey knew a ticket with the winning number had been sold, and it knew where that ticket had been purchased. The only thing they didn't know was the name of the buyer.
Nope, nobody showed up in April, May, June, July or August. Nobody came forward during the fall or winter of 2015. The New Year came and that money did nothing other than collect dust in some New Jersey account. The one-year deadline to claim the prize was approaching. Of course, with people preparing their taxes, nobody paid much attention to a year-old lottery.
Preparing her taxes, that's what Yokasta Boyer of Clifton, New Jersey, was doing. With a full-time job and a part-time job, getting her tax forms ready was a necessary evil. It was while she was organizing all her paperwork that Boyer came upon an old lottery ticket. With nothing to lose other than a few minutes of time, she checked the numbers, checked them again and, finally, had her brother take a look.
All those checks agreed. Boyer had the winning number, which gave her almost half-a-million dollars. Of course, there was that rule which said, she had to make her claim within the year. She did. With less than two weeks left, a very happy Boyer got her cash and paid off her debts.
Over the years others have not fared as well.
For them, for whatever reason, the deadline came and went and they were not able to collect a single penny. Sad? Absolutely! But not as sad as those who have heard about the Savior but never allowed the Holy Spirit to place faith into their hearts.
If things don't change, they -- like the five foolish virgins in Jesus' parable -- will find themselves locked out of heaven. They will be shut out if Judgment Day comes and finds them never having received the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life, which the Lord wishes to give them.
Now Boyer would have been most upset if she had not been able to claim her half mil, but think how unbelievers are going to feel after Judgment Day when they realize they had ignored and disregarded the salvation Jesus lived, died and rose to give them. Their agony will be intense and it will be never-ending.
This is why we share the Savior's story of sacrifice and salvation with the lost -- whenever and wherever we can.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may the unbelievers of the world be given faith while there is still time. Soften their hearts and grant them the gift of faith and forgiveness. This I ask in Jesus' Name.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries