A LIGHTHOUSE is a high tower or building; the upper part is called “the lantern.” The light of these lamps shines all night, guides ships on their way, and shows where the danger lies. Two or three people live in the lighthouse to attend to the lamps.
We will now look into one of these buildings on the coast of Cornwall, England. Little Mary was in the lighthouse alone. The night was coming on, and a storm was rising on the sea. Mary’s father had trimmed the lamps, and they were ready for lighting when the evening came on. But as he wanted to buy some food, he crossed the “causey,” which leads to the land. This causey was a pathway over the rocks and sands, which could only be passed for two or three hours in the day; other times, the waters rose and covered it.
Some rough-looking men behind a rock seemed glad as they saw him go to the land. Who were they? These men were wreckers. They waited about the coast, and if a storm drove a vessel on the rocks, they rushed down — not to help the poor sailors—but to rob them and plunder the ship. They sometimes even set up false lights to draw the ships in and wreck them on purpose.
The wreckers rushed from their hiding-place and threw her father on the ground. They quickly bound his hands and feet with ropes and carried him into a shed.
Mary looked from a narrow window in the lighthouse towards the shore, thinking it was time for her father to return. An hour passed; the clock struck seven, and Mary still looked towards the beach, but no father was to be seen. By the time it was eight, the tide was nearly over the pathway. Mary sat down and prayed, “O Lord, show me what to do, and bless my dear father, and bring him home safe.”
The water was now some feet above the causey. The sun had set for more than an hour, black storm clouds soon covered the moon from sight, and not a star was seen. The wreckers walked along the shore, looking for some ship to strike on the coast. Just now, the thought came into Mary’s mind that she would try to light the lamps, but the lamps were far above her reach. She got a few matches and made a light in preparation to light the lamps.
The next thing was to carry a set of steps to the spot and attempt to reach the lamps. A small table was next brought from below, and Mary put the steps upon it. But no; though she stood on tiptoe, the lamps were a little higher than she could reach.
The storm now became quite fearful. The sailors looked along the coast for the lights. Where could they be? Had they brought their ships in the wrong direction? They were at a loss to tell and knew not which way to steer. Mary was about to sit down again and weep when she thought of the large old Bible in the room below.
A large book was brought and placed under the steps in a minute, and up she got again. Yes, she was just high enough: then she touched one wick after another till the lamps’ rays shone brightly far over the dark waters. The sailors beheld the light, and steered their ships away from the rocks, and were safe. The wreckers, too, saw the light and were full of rage that their plot had failed. (Story revised from The Lighthouse Keepers Daughter published by the religious tract society)
What is the purpose of light? As the story above illustrates, lights are used as guides; they illuminate rooms to drive back the darkness and show hidden dangers; we can even use lights to project or show an image. As the lights of the world, these three things are what we are supposed to be doing. Our example is to be such that it guides people in the truth and leads them to Christ. It should be bright enough that it lights up the truth for people (John 11:10). Finally, it should project an image of how they should be living their lives as, “having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.” [1Pe 2:12 NKJV]
What is a physical example that sums up all three of these things? As in the story, a lighthouse guides ships, lights up the hidden dangers, and projects an image of safety and life. We can also be the lights to each other, supporting each other and helping each other (Hebrews 10:24-25). What does it mean to be lights? Being a light means being a good example so that those who see you want to live God’s way as well. When they see Christ in you, they should be able to see that He is who they want to emulate. There should be a difference between the people of the world and us, how we act, how we talk, how we treat others, and how we carry ourselves. We are supposed to be a light to the world as it says, 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. “Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all [who are] in the house. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” [Mat 5:14-16 NKJV]
So, from where does our light spring? It is the light of Christ (John 1:8-9). We are supposed to let it shine through us, reflecting Him (Luke 11:35-36). On our own, we are dim, but with Christ shining through us, we can be as bright as the sun (Proverbs 4:18). We are the light of the world guiding others to Christ, but is there a light we are supposed to be following? Yes! The source of our light is our guide as well. Christ is who we are supposed to be following (John 1:4-5). We must keep our eyes on the Light because many false lights are hoping to guide us onto the rocks as in the story (Ephesians 5:8, Psalms 119:105, 2 Corinthians 11:14). By the strength of His holy spirit, we can shine brightly indeed.
We need His spirit to be able to shine. This is illustrated in the story of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25. The oil represents the holy spirit in the lamps. The five wise virgins were only able to light their lamps when they were full of oil. The five foolish virgins allowed their lamps to empty and then go out. They were not let into the kingdom. How do we keep our lamps full and burning brightly? We don’t want to end up like the five foolish virgins, and we want to reflect Christ in every aspect of our life. In light of this, knowing how to keep our lamps full would be a good thing. The way to keep your lamp full isn’t complicated, but it is difficult, and it requires the dedication of our lives to Christ. A commitment, if you will. Not just a one-time deal either, but the day in, day out, everyday grind, and slog sort of commitment. So complete and utter that nothing else is more important than your commitment to God. Unlike the five foolish virgins, we have to choose every day to commit to following Christ and maintaining a close relationship with Him. We have to stay close to our source of ‘oil.’
Our lights won’t burn without His spirit. It’s not easy to keep your relationship with God close and exclusive. In fact, you will mess up every day, but you will seek forgiveness and try to do better in your persistence. God is merciful, and He gives us His spirit despite our utter humanness, and He forgives us as often as we repent and strive to change. There are few greater enemies and challenges that we face than to overcome our human nature. Every single one of us struggles and bitterly fights with the old man that we put off at baptism. Our old man desperately wants to retake control, and he hates that we booted him out, but boot him, we must. We must not only keep him booted, but most importantly, we must nourish and put on the new man as it says in Ephesians 4:22-24. Quoting Paul in verse 24, “You put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.” This is powerful! The only way we can accomplish this is to stay close to Christ and renew our relationship with Him every day, keeping our reserves of ‘oil’ full. We can’t be lights or effective Christians without a full reservoir of oil.
So let your light shine before men so that through you they may see Christ. Remember that someone is watching, and your example may be the light that sets them on the right path. Look for opportunities to be a light to people and let it shine. It could be as simple as holding a door for someone or talking to that shy person, we may not even think we are doing anything special, but to someone in the world, they may notice that we are different. We don’t swear, take things that aren’t ours, mistreat others, or lie. As children of God, we are honest, treat people well, and treat others with respect as fellow creatures created in the image of God. They might not notice these things immediately, but eventually, they will (Proverbs 3:3-4). When they see, they may make fun of us as Christ warned us, 18 “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before [it hated] you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world; therefore, the world hates you.” [John 15:18-19 NKJV] Sometimes, they react entirely differently and want to learn more.
Ultimately, it’s up to whether God calls them and their response to that call (John 6:44). All we can do is exert our best effort to be a bright light upon a hill, a beacon of God’s love. Our example may be the only contact with God’s way many people ever have in this life. We should make sure our example shines well upon it. Let us be a lighthouse to the world!