Lighthouses and the Bible

    In one of the churches I was visiting, I had the pleasure of meeting the publisher of a magazine about lighthouses. He gave me a complimentary copy and I enjoyed it immensely. Like many Christians, I often see spiritual parallels with lighthouses, Jesus, and His church.
     Jesus said, “I am come a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness” - John 12:46. Lighthouses were originally used to guide sailors to the harbor entrances. Likewise, Jesus is the light that guides and purchases our entrance into the safe harbor of God the Father’s loving arms.
     The use of lighthouses was eventually expanded to include warning of navigational hazards in the water. Following the true beam of Jesus’ light also preserves us from the spiritual dangers of false ideologies and deception.
     Jesus also likened His disciples to lights – “You are the light of the world,” and compared them to cities on a hill that can’t be hidden, and candlesticks that give light to all that are in the house, (Matthew 5:14,15).
     Each believer whose heart has been set ablaze by the fire of God’s Word and His Spirit is like a lighthouse that shines for the welfare of those seeking spiritual shelter from the stormy turmoil of life in this temporal and unpredictable world.

    In the early days before modern improvements and technical aids, lighthouse keeping was a dangerous and difficult occupation. The light had to be maintained continuously for the safety of the ships. Many lighthouse keepers, their families and their assistants lost their lives in the line of duty as hurricanes swept over the islands, and sometimes even poorly constructed towers would tumble into the sea in severe winds. The stories I read of their devotion to their work and the safety of others was truly inspiring. Lives were at stake, and they refused to abandon their posts.
     Likewise, when I read about those in Jesus’ service who dedicate their lives to serve in the mission fields, and who are martyred for refusing to deny their Lord who gave His life for them, their stories fill me with inspiration and encouragement. These dedicated believers shine their lights in a darkened world, enduring unimaginable hardships to gather others into the safe shelter of faith in Christ.
     All believers, no matter what capacity they are called to serve in, share the same glory for faithful obedience.
     I read about a lighthouse keeper’s wife, Maria Bray, who had to take over her husband’s job when he could not return home because of a ferocious snow storm that descended upon the twin lights of Thatcher’s Island, Massachusetts in 1864. Maria had to climb one hundred and fifty-six stairs to maintain the light in the one tower, then trudge three hundred yards through howling winds and driving snow to repeat the same service in the other tower, which she did for three days and nights. Just thinking about it makes me out of breath.
     Then I ponder the lives of the circuit riders who faithfully mounted horses and rode long distances to minister to handfuls of souls in congregations scattered across the frontiers and wildernesses of the early days of America, shining their lights in spite of the various perils and hardships.

    Today, many lighthouses are being decommissioned and are no longer needed because of the advent of modern navigational devices and automated replacements. Many of these unique and wonderful structures are being given away to non-profit organizations, or sold to individuals to be maintained as historical sites, or made over into restaurants and bed and breakfast inns. Those re-conditioned lighthouses are still serving a purpose, although their lights are no longer needed to direct sailors to safe harbors or warn them away from unseen perils in the sea. However, Christians can’t afford to allow themselves to be decommissioned, for as the days grow darker as the Bible predicts, their lights are needed even more desperately. Souls are drowning and need to see the light of Jesus, and lives are being shipwrecked without the steady beam of Truth that only the Christian can offer through Christ.
     Like the lighthouse, our lights must beam continuously for the spiritual welfare of others, no matter how difficult it becomes to maintain that light. I think about the picture I saw of an aging sixty-something Asian pastor and his wife wading in the night down the middle of a creek, holding high a torch to light their way to minister to believer’s in a persecuted underground church. The image of the dedication of those lighthouses for Jesus challenges my complacency.
     In Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins (Mathew 25:1-13) He recognizes those who have maintained the precious light of His Truth no matter how hard the storms of this life may have battered them. When Jesus comes again, He will gather to Himself all those lights of His that have shone so faithfully in His service. These are the lighthouses that He recognizes in the darkness that He rewards and restores to shine as glorious lights in His kingdom.
     “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” –( Matthew 5:16).
     Keep your lights shinning brightly, children. Lives are at stake, we can’t afford to abandon our posts.

Copyright 2011 by H.D. Shively

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