Why the Lights Should Be Left On

 

LIGHTHOUSEMore than one hundred years ago, a ship tried to enter the Cleveland harbor during a severe storm.

light storm

The captain of the ship could see the bright light of the lighthouse in the harbor, but he couldn’t see the lower lights.  Yet those lower lights were necessary for captains to navigate their way into the harbor. Ships identified that center line for safe entry into a harbor by those lower lights. Without those lights, there was no way to tell the ship’s exact location as it sailed across dark, turbulent waters. [Source]

This particular ship passed the place where it could have turned into the harbor. It missed entry because the lower lights had burned out. The ship was too large to turn around, and, even though the captain could see the lighthouse, it was too late. He couldn’t go back, so he continued trying to move forward near the shoreline.

The ship hit rocks on the shore and sank to a watery grave. Many of those on board lost their lives.

Light STONES beach

Yes, there was the storm. There was the rocky shoreline. It’s true that the ship was too large to turn around. Yet it wasn’t the captain’s inexperience or his lack of knowledge that caused the shipwreck. The problem was that he couldn’t find his way. His passage was thwarted because the lower lights had gone out. Since the lower lights weren’t burning, the ship hit the rocks and sank. If only those lower lights had been lit and shining brightly during the storm that night!

LIGHTHOUSE shipwreck

Dwight L. Moody, a great Protestant evangelist, told the story of this ship one night in a message. He shared that, while Jesus is the Lighthouse, His people are the lower lights. At the end of his sermon, Moody said, “The Master will take care of the great lighthouse; let us keep the lower lights burning.”

Several sources say that Philip Paul Bliss (PP Bliss) was the song leader during these meetings. Hearing this story and these words from Moody was all he needed to pen the hymn “Brightly Beams Our Father’s Mercy.”

While I’ve always liked this song, I’ve more recently come to understand and appreciate its message. The phrase that hits home most is in the first verse. The song begins by telling us that the mercy of our Father beams brightly, just like a lighthouse. The next lines are a charge to those of us who have claimed that Light:  “but to us He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore.”

LIGHT lower lights

Jesus the Lighthouse beams His mercy for everyone. It is our responsibility as His children to keep our lights trimmed and burning so that others can find their way into the safe harbor.  As keepers of the lower lights, we are given the call to send our beams to others who are fainting or struggling. It’s true that the way we live can be a beacon to others. We need to keep the lights on! What a challenge!

Read the words below – and find a new appreciation for the message in the song.  I hope you’ll also be encouraged to make sure your lamp is trimmed, your globe is clean, and your light is shining brightly across the waters wherever you live.

LANTERN bb

 

Listen to the song here.

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Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From his lighthouse evermore,
But to us he gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.

Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

Dark the night of sin has settled;
Loud the angry billows roar.
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.

Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;
Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,
Trying now to make the harbor,
In the darkness may be lost.

Let the lower lights be burning;
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman
You may rescue, you may save.

Text and music: Philip Paul Bliss, 1838–1876

 

 

 

 

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