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Light Upon A Hill

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Light Upon A Hill

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The upper part of a lighthouse is called “the lantern.” The light of these lamps shines all night, guides ships on their way and shows where danger lies. Two or three people live in the lighthouse to attend to the lamps.

An anonymous story titled “The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter,” was published by the Religious Tract Society in the 1800s (babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mcg.ark:/13960/t96703j8t, public domain). It tells of a lighthouse and its keeper on the coast of Cornwall, England. 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 toward the beach, but no father was to be seen. By eight o’clock, 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 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.

Beautiful sunset over the water on a coast

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. This is what we are supposed to be doing spiritually.

What is the purpose of a 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 lights of the world, these three things are what we are supposed to be doing spiritually. 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: “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” (1 Peter 2:12).

In our lives today, how can we be lights to each other, supporting each other and helping each other (Hebrews 10:24-25)? 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. As Matthew 5:14-16 says, “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.” 

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 the One 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, just as in the lighthouse story (Ephesians 5:8, Psalm 119:105, 2 Corinthians 11:14).

So let your light shine so that through you they may see Christ. Always 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 someone in the world 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 and treat others with respect as fellow human beings 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. Christ warned us, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. 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). But sometimes, they will have a completely different reaction and want to learn more.

Ultimately, it’s up to God when He calls them, and then 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!  CC

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