The parable of the 10 Virgins has always been intriguing to me. I have known there was a deep message in that parable just for me, yet for years I have not discovered what it was until just recently.
In Sunday school, we were talking about the parable of the 10 Virgins and how it relates to us. I’ve heard it said that the oil in our lamps is our testimonies, and that is why we cannot “share” our oil with others. During the lesson, our teacher mentioned olive oil was used to light the lamps and how much effort went in to producing the olive oil. In my mind, I thought of the process of making olive oil. We have heard it used in symbolism with Gethsemane. Here is the piece written by David Ridges in his “The New Testament Made Easier” book that popped into my mind and got me thinking on a deeper level:
The word “Gethsemane” means “oil press.” There is significant symbolism here. The Jews put olives into bags made of mesh fabric and placed them in a press to squeeze olive oil out of them. The first pressings yielded pure olive oil which was prized for many uses, including healing and giving light in lanterns. In fact, we consecrate it and use it to administer to the sick. The last pressing of the olives, under the tremendous pressure of additional weights added to the press, yielded a bitter, red liquid which can remind us of the “bitter cup” which the Savior partook of. Symbolically, the Savior is going into the “oil press” (Gethsemane) to submit to the “pressure” of all our sins which will “squeeze” His blood out in order that we might have the healing “oil” of the Atonement to heal us from our sins.
When the teacher mentioned the process of getting olive oil, I thought, “it is the intense pressure that extracts the oil and gives us the purest oil. If we think of this symbolically in our life, then is it the pressure (the struggles and challenges) that we go through that extract the best in us—that makes us pure and creates our oil? If that is the case, it is our challenges and pressures that create our oil and make us pure enough to see Christ. THIS is the reason we cannot “share” our oil. Our trials are our own. It is through overcoming them and becoming pure that we have ‘oil’ and we cannot share that. Each person must go through this individually.” This was such a profound AHA for me—an epiphany, a lesson. It hit me so powerfully. The trials and challenges we go through are truly blessings. It is the Lord’s way of purging the impurities from our souls and creating a pureness so that we will be able to stand in His presence and live with Him again. When I see someone going through a trial, in my mind I think they must be special because the Lord is giving them a gift and helping them create oil for their lamps.
I found that interesting as read about the second pressing creates a bitter red oil. I thought about how when we continue to press and press on our own problems and struggles, like calling friends or family and hashing and discussing and complaining and continually talking about your problem/issue, then you can create bitterness in your own life. I’ve done this, so I know. I usually can talk myself through a problem, but when I call someone or somebody asks me, then I can get heated up, worked up, and re-wrapped up in an issue. The secret is to not keep pressing and create bitterness, but to use the struggle or trial to create purity, and then let it fill our lamp and move on.
I now know that this was part of the deeper message I was to get from this scripture. I know there is more—something about the virgins themselves that I have not uncovered yet, but I do know that one day I will and the deeper meaning will become clear to me then, too.