3 Things My Grandkids (and a lighthouse) Taught Me About My Relationship With God
by: Jeff Thompson | August 20, 2017
Several weeks ago, that moment we all look forward to each summer finally arrived—VACATION. It was a great time of relaxing at the beach with my wife, my oldest son, his wife, and our 3 grandchildren. We made a side-trip from New Smyrna Beach north to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. It was a miserably hot and humid day to climb 203 steps all the way to the top of the lighthouse, but for some unexplained reason, we chose to do that. The view was incredible; however, Pastor Jeff is not a huge fan of heights, so the walk around the top of the lighthouse was brief and spent much closer to the lighthouse itself than the outer rail on the viewing area.
As we walked around the grounds that day, it dawned on me I should be involved in making this a learning experience for my grandchildren in addition to just taking pictures, eating ice cream, and sweating. So, I huddled the 2 oldest grandchildren, ages 12 and 8, and asked them to pay attention throughout the day to things they learned about the lighthouse, and then let’s compare notes and see in what ways a lighthouse parallels our Christian journey & relationship with God.
So, the next morning as we walked on the beach, I asked if they came up with any ideas. Together, we talked through the tour and came up with the following:
1) The Lighthouse was designed for a purpose- Historically, the lighthouse served a purpose in the 1700’s because a wide range of products including oranges, rice, cotton, lumber, and indigo dye were being shipped to many ports via the Mosquito Inlet. So, a lighthouse was established to help ships navigate the area safely. The lighthouse was build brick by brick- to the tune of 1,250,000 bricks!
We, too are designed for a purpose! In Ephesians 2:10, we read, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Wow—we are created for a purpose- to do good works. Just think of that truth that God built each of us brick by brick, bone by bone, and artery by artery to do good works on this earth. What good works is God waiting for you to begin?
As we walked along the beach a little farther, picking up shells and using our handy-dandy metal detector to look for hidden treasure at the beach (we found 3 tent stakes), another thought about the lighthouse came into my grandchildren’s mind.
2) The Lighthouse beam was made to penetrate the darkness- Indeed it was! There had been many deaths off the coast of Florida by shipwreck, so wise people were looking for ways to preserve life. A lighthouse beam can be seen from nearly 20 miles away through the darkness and the fog. The light in the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is a very complex process. It uses a Fresnel lens that both collects and reflects light. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do?
The Bible is full of verses that talk about LIGHT. Psalm 109:105, “Your word is a lamp for my feet; a light to my path.” Matthew 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” John 1:5, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Ecclesiastes 2:13, “I saw that wisdom is better than folly, just as light is better than darkness.”
Do you notice the theme? Light. Overcomes. Breaks Through. Shines. That’s why Jesus, when he taught the Beatitudes pointed out the light isn’t mean to be hidden under a basket, but it is meant to shine. Through the darkness of sin, God shines. Through the darkness of trying events in our country’s history, we are called to shine more than ever this week in love.
As the grandkids and I finished our walk up New Smyrna Beach and headed for home, there was one last thought both they, and I, noticed about our lighthouse tour the previous day.
3) Closer=Brighter and Farther=Dimmer
There are many scientific reasons for this phenomenon—a standard lighthouse with a height of 200 feet, such as the Ponce Inlet lighthouse, will have its light shine out at about 20 miles. Once you get past that point, it will begin to fade away. The light is still shining, but we are no longer able to see it.
Think for a moment, now, about how that concept parallels our walk with Christ. I’ve often found in some of the dark moments, the light was still shining, but functionally, I had moved farther away from that light. My quiet time was not as regular; my time in the Bible had become more sporadic, and I didn’t long for things of the Spirit as much as I had in other seasons. When we walk closely with the Creator, the light just flows from Him to us, and then reflects on to others. When our boat gets a little farther from the Source, the light gets harder to identify and we start relying on other means of guidance.
So, the next time you are driving up and down the coast of Florida, or Maine, or wherever your vacations take you in life, and you see a beautiful lighthouse hugging the rocky coast where you are, remember these truths that a 12-year-old, and an 8 year old, with a little help from PawPaw noticed when touring the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse:
The Lighthouse, and YOU, were designed for a purpose
Collect and Reflect light to others
Stay Close to the Source.