Week seven: Beacons of hope

Lighthouse on the coast

I have a very active imagination, as Mama can attest to.  She has always told us that when we were little and needed time out (i.e. put in the corner, this was way before the days of Time Out Teddy!), it was the ultimate punishment for my sister who hated to be still.  However, it wasn’t a very effective method of discipline for me.  Mama would put me in the corner and, when checking on me a few minutes later, find me in my own happy little world, deeply engrossed in the story spinning out in my imagination.  I’d be completely oblivious to the fact that I was being disciplined.

As an adult, my imagination is just as active.  When I travel to different places, I always wonder what life is like for someone walking a different path from me and my mind is constantly spinning out stories.  The last time I visited a lighthouse, I was intrigued enough to come home and research the history of lighthouses, their keepers and the daily responsibilities.

The lighthouses themselves are impressive structures and have the nickname “traffic signs on the sea.”  The first lighthouses were actually built before Jesus Christ was born, the earliest known reference dating back to 1200 B.C.  in Iliad, Homer’s Greek epic poem.  The first sources of light were bonfires, later giving way to “lanterns” or large iron baskets filled with wood or coal and hung high, which were eventually replaced with oil or gas lanterns.  With the invention of the Fresnel lens (basically a huge magnifying glass) in 1822, the powerful beams of light emitted from the lens became the maritime traveler’s signal source and is the lighthouse signal we’re familiar with today.  The beam projected from this lens is so intense it can be seen from up to 28 miles away.  Also, it’s interesting to note that each lighthouse has its own distinctive series of flashes known as its characteristic, allowing sea travelers to identify each individual lighthouse (http://www.lighthousepreservation.org/education.php).

The life of a lighthouse keeper is very difficult and demanding.  Even with automation, the keeper has to be completely dedicated to their responsibilities, requiring a constant and faithful attention to their duties.  In order to guide and protect sailors and assure safe passage, the light must be kept in perfect condition – the lens must be kept spotless, gears cleaned and well oiled.  The keeper must also have a firm knowledge of the electrical controls and the ability to make repairs on the spot.  In addition, the keeper must have emergency training skills in the event of hurricanes, snowstorms or even be prepared to respond to a shipwreck.  On top of this are the everyday tasks of housekeeping, including the lighthouse, living quarters and grounds, taking inventory and ordering supplies, paperwork and updating log books and a plethora of other mundane duties.

Busy?  Dangerous?  Boring?  Lonely?  I’m sure the answer would be yes to all.  However, the lighthouse keeper has to be passionate about the job and pay excruciating attention to detail and be on the job 24/7.  He sacrifices his personal life and family time to ensure the beacons of light are steady and reliable.  If he wavers in his dedication, the light may not shine and disaster would fall to those who seek it for direction and safety.  In short, the keeper is necessary for the light to continue constantly and without fail.

As I considered the significance of the lighthouse, I began to think about a recent difficult and trying situation I walked through with a dear friend.  While I only lent a shoulder, an ear and prayer support, I still felt her pain deeply.  I longed to offer some wise words of wisdom that would lift her, encourage her and offer hope when others constantly said there was none and none should be expected.

And you know what?  From a human standpoint there really is no hope if we don’t have a lighthouse keeper in control of our lives shining beacons of hope to light the way out of dark, depressing and seemingly hopeless times.  Isaiah 9:2 (NIV) reads:

“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness [the shadow of death] a light has dawned.”

In Scripture, light is not only an icon of knowledge but also of joy, deliverance and rejoicing and stands opposed to moral darkness.  Basically, God’s message from this verse is that even though His people would be afflicted, there is hope because there will also be deliverance.  As with the entire Old Testament, this Scripture parallels the New Testament and the coming of the Messiah (Jesus Christ) as a light in the darkness and a deliverer.

The second part of this verse is also interesting in that it refers to a “shadow of death.”  The original Hebrew word used is tsalmâveth, which when translated refers to death as a dark substance or a being casting a long and chilly shadow, blocking the land from the light and becoming an image of ignorance, misery and distress.  But notice what it says about His people who are under this shadow – they are not part of it, only in the shadow temporarily.  It’s a powerful metaphor of restoration and hope in the certainty that because of the life, death and resurrection of Christ, no matter how desperate a situation seems, even in the darkest days of your life, you have a constant source of hope, a Light to guide you out of the darkness and into safe waters.  He will always be there for you, will never fail you and will always lead you through bad times to something much better!

Even if trials are not removed from your life, you never see wicked deeds punished or you seem to be in a hopeless situation, immerse yourself in the Light of His hope.  Put your hope solely on God and not man – He alone is the source of your salvation, healing and blessings.  Your life will become more joyful regardless of your circumstances.

The next time you see a lighthouse, stop to thank God for loving you enough to send His Son to be your Light and Guide through this life.  Thank Him for His constant presence and the assurance of a future eternity free from any sadness and pain.  Thank Him for your health and pray for self-control and the motivation to be disciplined in all areas, both physical and spiritual.  Thank Him that, because you are His child, there is nothing you can’t do and you can have hope and joy in any situation, at all times!

If you have never made your relationship with God personal, the Light of His hope can be yours by simply acknowledging Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.  Do it today!  Visit www.lifeway.com/Article/Becoming-a-Christian-can-be-as-easy-as-A-B-C, email me at kim@inperfectunity.com or seek out someone you know who is a Christian to help you.  This is the most important decision you will ever make in your life!

Scripture:  John 3:16:  For God so loved the world [you!] that He gave His one and only Son, that whosoever [you!] believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.

Prayer:  Father God, how wonderful to know that even in times of trials there is always hope through you!  I give You all of the worries and troubles that have been weighing me down.  I surrender them to You and have joy in the knowledge that You always have good and wonderful plans for my life.  I put my hope completely in You and You alone.  Through You there is nothing I can’t get through or accomplish!  Thank You, Lord, I love You!

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