Ever Been Prepared But Not Ready?

ALT="oil lamp"

By Davalynn Spencer @davalynnspencer

One summer evening when our children were little, a thunderstorm crashed up against the Front Range and knocked out the power. Colorado is famous for its sudden storms and lightning shows but, newcomer that I was, I was proudly prepared.

“Let’s be pioneers,” I told the kids, hoping to banish their fears with a little make-believe.

Smugly, I gathered kerosene lamps, bottled oil, and a package of wicks I kept in the pantry.

Confident in their mother’s wisdom, my 3- and 7-year-old watched as I carefully poured the precious oil into the glass-lamp basins, pushed new, white cotton wicks into the burners, and screwed the burners onto the lamps.

“We have everything we need for light, just like your great-great-grandparents,” I said.

I struck the match, held it to the wick, and watched it burn down to my fingertips before I tried a second match, and then a third.

My children stared wide-eyed at the tightly woven wick that wouldn’t light, no matter how many times Mom tried. And then they looked at me.

Fear wiggled its way from my heart to my throat—not fear of the dark or the storm, but fear of failing my children, of not coming through on a promise.

As we all stood assessing my so-called preparation, comprehension washed over me like the rain drenching our house.

It wasn’t the wick that burned—it was the oil in the wick. My wicks were new and dry, and it was going to take hours for them to soak up the oil.

Heavy, wet darkness blanketed our home, and I tucked my disappointed children into bed, promising I’d show them the light the next morning. Then I curled up on the sofa and watched the lightning through our big picture windows.

Frustrated, I realized that I could be just like those dry wicks.

I had every one of God’s promises from the Bible, but had I readied my heart by soaking them in? When adversity’s thunder crashed into my life and the lights went out, would my heart be full of His words and ready to brighten the darkness?

I had always wondered what Jesus meant when He said, “Remain in Me, and I will remain in you” (John 15:4). The idea sounded like a paradox to me. But after I tried to light the dry wick, I understood it completely.

The oil doesn’t get into the wick unless the wick is in the oil.

God’s truth and comfort would never permeate me unless I immersed myself in His word.

The next morning I easily lit the lamp for my children, but I’d lost the moment of pioneer adventure. I promised myself that the next time I tried to show them the light—whether with a kerosene lamp or my life—I’d be ready.


Prepared but not ready. Share on X Oil doesn't get in the wick unless the wick is in the oil. Share on X



ALT="Straight to My Heart"

Another crack of thunder and Livvy flinched. She slid down, pulled her knees to her chest, and tried to squeeze her entire body beneath her hat brim. Rain pounded her hat and arms and bounced off the ground.


Kernel-sized hail popped out of the grass and off the rocks like buckshot. It stung right through her clothing, but there was nothing she could do. For all her childhood experience in the saddle, she’d never ridden out a storm in the open.                       ~Straight to My Heart



BONUS: If you’d like to read about the Royal Gorge War, mentioned in Straight to My Heart, read here for my post on Heroes, Heroines, and History, a blog that connects those who love to write about history with those who love to read it.


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(c) 2018 Davalynn Spencer, all rights reserved.

6 thoughts on “Ever Been Prepared But Not Ready?

  1. What a wonderful analogy. Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. davalynn

      So glad you enjoyed it, Marjorie.

  2. Carlyn Bailey

    Sometimes we have to live through something to completely understand. Beautiful words.

    1. davalynn

      Absolutely, Carlyn. Thanks for reading.

  3. I love this story! I need to put it in my refrigerator. I know I need to be prepared. But am I really? I think I need a little more oil!
    I appreciate your words of wisdom.

    1. davalynn

      Thank you, Karen. This incident was a real eye-opener in my life.


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