“The Bolivar Lighthouse”
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12, NIV
Growing up in Galveston, Texas was a child’s dream in countless ways. Life was so very different back then. I thank God I grew up in this time when nearly all the activities of daily life were so family-focused. All of the things we did, we did, by and large, as families…being together was a HUGE part of every day life. With its “year-round summer” climate and year-round-vacation atmosphere, Galveston was indeed an exciting place to live. One of my most favorite things to do was to take a ferry ride over to the Bolivar Peninsula. At that time, there were very few residents or buildings. There was one cafe at a crossroads right down from the ferry landing – and that was about it – unless you went into the little village of Bolivar itself….
Except, that is, for the tall, stately, old lighthouse that stood right next to the highway. Adjacent to it was a beautiful old home that had been built years before as a residence or office – for the lighthouse keepers, perhaps??? The house stood high on its pillars, and to me, its long, white-painted porches seemed to say “Welcome, traveler…you’re safe now. Come and sit for awhile and have something cool to drink.”
My childhood imagination would work overtime each time we drove past it. In fact, my fascination with this beautiful lady of the seaside continues still. When my own children were young, we would take at least one ferry ride every time we came to Galveston to see Grandma and Grandpa. We would park on the side of the road, and while the children played on the sand dunes, I would sit and sketch one drawing after another of my favorite lighthouse. I longed to live there, to be quite honest with you. Even though I knew that was impossible, I never lost that desire to live there. I would still love to live there.
Over the years, this weather-beaten lighthouse became a symbol of hope to me, so as Hurricane Ike approached the upper Texas coastline, one of the places I prayed for the most was Bolivar…knowing it’s extreme vulnerability to tidal surges, I wondered how on earth, or even if, its hardy residents or my precious lighthouse would survive.
Having been through more than a few terrible storms all during my growing-up years, we decided to “hunker down and ride it out.” It was the fiercest storm I can ever recall. Throughout the storm that night, my thoughts turned to Bolivar often as I prayed for the many people in this area. As the news reports began to show the damage as circumstances and daylight would allow, I longed to know how Mom and Dad’s old house and the places I used to frequent in Galveston as a child and teenager were faring. Most especially, I prayed for my lighthouse, longing to know how or even if it had made it through the storm. Remember, it was a symbol of hope for me.
Each day following the storm, I watched the televised reports of the storm damage and searched the photos on the web eager to get a glimpse of my lighthouse. After days of searching, I began to accept the fact that it was gone. How could such an old relic make it through such a powerful storm – standing all alone, no one able to care for it, the rising flood waters, gusts of winds and stinging rains beating against it time and time again, wave, after wave, wave after wave, wave after wave, crashing against its old rusting walls, hour after hour, after hour.
As I opened my email over a week later, there were yet more pictures of the storm damage in my box. After so many pictures over the past ten days or so, I didn’t even open them until later on in the day – there were just too many other things to do and meetings to make, and errands to run, and people to see, and calls to return, etc., etc., etc. When I went home for lunch, my son Kenneth told me he had forwarded some pictures to me – some of which he knew I would want to see. “Your lighthouse made it, Mom. It’s still there. I sent you the pictures I got this morning.”
I could hardly wait to open the file. It was such a huge file…with many, many pictures, so it seemed to take forever to finish downloading. I scrolled from picture to picture until at last, there it was…tall and stately as ever before, my lighthouse had made it – a bit bruised and battered – of that I am sure – but she made it! Tears of joy and prayers of thanksgiving were lifted to heaven as I thanked God for this miracle.
The weariness of the past few weeks, the intensity of making the preparations for the storm and worst of all – its weeks and weeks of aftermath…mucking through the mud, the lack of electricity, pools of standing water, piles of storm debris … the frustrations of trying to help so many people and feeling so helpless and overwhelmed, the pressures of just trying to make it through the day, in all the traffic, seeing all the damaged areas, seeing and feeling the pain of so many who were suffering – all of this now began to take on a new perspective for me.
My sense of hope was lifted in new ways. I felt renewed energy, inside and out. Strength began to surge throughout my spirit. In the mess and mire of trying to get life back up and going again, seeing my lighthouse, and knowing she had made it through such an awful storm released a spirit of hope in me more powerful than any tidal surge.
An answer to prayer. A symbol of light in the darkness. God was speaking to my child-like heart, reminding me that the Creator of the Universe still hears the simplest of prayers from the simplest of people – and most especially those spoken in the midst of the storms of life that assail us from time to time.
In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul writes that there is no temptation, no situation, no flood, no storm that can assail the believer in this life that God has not ALREADY provided a way through…(1 Corinthians 10:13)
can ever come against His children
that God will not be there with us and help us through –
we just need to look to and lean on Him and not ourselves.
While I do not believe God sends the storms, I do believe He does allows them, yet there is always, always, always a divine best reason for why He allows them. He will never allow anything into our lives we cannot handle when He is our guide and stay, our refuge and strength!
The Amplified Bible gives us a deeper understanding …
“For no temptation (no trial regarded as enticing to sin [sin that which separates us from God]), [no matter how it comes or where it leads] has overtaken you and laid hold on you that is not common to man [that is, no temptation or trial has come to you that is beyond human resistance and that is not adjusted and adapted and belonging to human experience, and such as man can bear].
But God is faithful [to His Word and to His compassionate nature], and He [can be trusted] not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.”
Now, please permit me just one more word about my lighthouse…she’s old, but she’s tough…and I pray that these very words can be true of all of us as we continue to grow in our walk with the Lord. It’s the storms of life that make us grow. It’s the relentless battering of wind and waves that develop the tenor and strength of our character. It’s the battle scars that mark our hearts to remind us we are never alone when we walk in covenant with God.
“You are the light of the world.” Matthew 5:14
As disciples of Jesus Christ, I pray that each of us will be houses of God’s light and hope to our world no matter where life finds us. I pray the words we speak will be words of hope and love, peace and encouragement…that as we encounter others, they will feel valued and loved…that as the circumstances of life beat against us, we will respond with faith and forgiveness. And for us older lighthouses, let God keep shining through you into all the darkness of this world, for “some poor fainting, struggling seaman, you may rescue, you may save.”
“Brightly beams our Father’s mercy from His lighthouse evermore; But to us, He gives the keeping of the lights along the shore. “Trim you feeble lamp my brother! Some poor seaman 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.” Hymn by Phillip Bliss
From my heart to yours . . .Kay!