Safety by Light — Parable of the Lighthouse

It was a romantic view of York beach with my wife on the evening that I sketched. Cape Neddick Light (commonly called Nubble Light) is near Portland, Maine. The lighthouse reflected the setting sun in back of me. But the business side of the light from sea is more serious. Any ships or boats for many miles could see the flashing light that is focused through the Fresnel lens. This particular day was tranquil, but that is not always the case.

A few months later my brother took a picture of the light before the sun was up and when contrast at ocean level makes things harder to see. The light was still flashing, providing an essential landmark for mariners navigating the region, which is known for fog off the coast in the early morning hours. (See the second sketch.)

While the operation of lighthouses has been automated, the characteristic light sequences of each one, along with the fog or bell warning sounds under appropriate conditions, have been in operation for decades. This particular lighthouse has been in operation since the late 1800s. Who knows how many seaman have been saved from danger by identifying the light’s flashing sequence or the fog alarms as they approached this part of the Maine coast under bad weather conditions?

I can appreciate the warnings. I was on a nuclear sub as a midshipman decades ago and was invited to the sail as we approached a busy US harbor. It was foggy and the radar quit working momentarily in the middle of a sea lane. The sounds and sights of navigation aids suddenly became very important. A couple decades later I was on a small navy ship off the coast of Cape Hatteras. North Carolina. Lighthouses provided much appreciated markers as we passed within 30 km of some of the Cape’s dangerous waters under bad weather conditions.

God is the lighthouse for our souls. Jesus Christ explains that He is the way, or the course of safety. Prophecies hundreds of years before His birth and life on earth heralded His coming as bringing light to the world. Verse after verse in several books warn of being watchful of danger and mindful of where our steps take us. One of the Holy Spirit’s express purposes is to lead and guide believers. All of these functions are oriented to keep us walking in God’s light if we have an inclination to hear and obey.

Lighthouses have a very romantic image, but their business side is the safety of mariners. The love of God is sometimes seen as soothing and peaceful, but the “business” side of our righteous God is also serious. He provides light for his children, warnings to keep us safe, and discipline to keep us watchful. God is well aware of sin, evil, and those that hold hatred for the Creator. As the Bible says, if they persecuted and killed Jesus Christ, the Son of God, they will as easily persecute those who follow Him, yet our souls can remain safe.

So, appreciate the loving kindness of God and follow the wonderful and clear guidance of the Word of God. Heed the Holy Spirit. Walk properly and safely. In doing so He promises to be with us…forever.


Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)

Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning… (Luke 12:35)

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. (John 14:26-27)

Quotations from the ESV

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