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The Kerosene Lamp and the Lighthouse

Added by Holger Bergner on August 2, 2013. · No Comments · Share this Post

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Photo by Paul Bica,

By Akiyo Matsuoka

On an island off the coast of a rocky shore stood a stately lighthouse. During the day, the white walls of the lighthouse shimmered and sparkled under the sunlight, while at night it burned a light for those at sea that outshone even the stars. Many people visited the lighthouse, and when they did, they commented on its size and strength and admired the artistic beauty that it added to the surrounding landscape. Some told its keeper of how it had been their saving grace during a storm.

All loved the lighthouse, with one exception: a little kerosene lamp that lived in the lighthouse. By day it hung forgotten at the bottom of the stairs. At dusk it helped the keeper of the lighthouse make his way from the bottom of the stairs to the lantern room. It wasn’t that the kerosene lamp despised his job – he knew that he served a purpose - but to live in the shadow of someone else whose light was so much brighter and could reach and help so many more than a lowly kerosene lamp could - those thoughts rankled deep within the kerosene lamp’s mind.

If the little lamp had been anything else – a broom, for instance – it would not have had much reason to compare itself with the lighthouse; their functions would have been completely different. But since both had been made for the purpose of lighting the way for others, it seemed to the kerosene lamp that he fell far short. To his way of thinking, his shortcomings were magnified by his nearness to one so much greater than he. Always, the kerosene lamp labored under this heaviness of heart.

Then one day, after a particularly brilliant afternoon when many visitors had come to play on the sandy turf of the island, there was a knock at the door. It was a boy, searching for a friend who he had lost sight of during their play, and who now was lost. The sun had set, and what had seemed such friendly shores hours before were now dark and foreboding. Could the kindly keeper of the lighthouse help him find his friend?

The keeper quickly took the youth inside and, after bundling him into a blanket, turned to get his own coat to protect himself from the night chill.

Then he reached to the hook between the door and the stairs, and took down the little lamp. After carefully making sure that the wick was wet with kerosene and the tank full, the keeper lit the lamp and whispered, “Burn bright tonight, faithful friend. I cannot take the lighthouse with me. He serves his purpose here, but you were made for times like this. It is now that I need you most!”

In that instant, all of the kerosene lamp’s misgivings were replaced by joy – joy in knowing that here was something only he could do.

All through the night, through brambles and brush, the kerosene lamp burned brighter and more steadily than ever before. He had to; the keeper was depending on him. At last the lost boy was found and brought safely back to the lighthouse and his friend.

Never again did the kerosene lamp doubt his place or purpose. He had learned a great lesson that night: He was happiest and most useful being himself.

Each one of us, too, has a special place and purpose that no one else can fill. Others may seem to have “brighter lights” – greater talents or broader influence – but the Keeper of our hearts, in His great all-knowing love, made each of us the way He did for a reason. We should never think our light is too small to make a difference.

“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16 NIV

 * * * 

What is it about a lighthouse that stirs the imagination? Tall, strong, invincible–a lighthouse is a literal tower of strength that rises in the very spot where boiling waves and craggy cliffs mean danger.But I don’t think it’s the steady strength of a lighthouse that I like best. No, it’s the beacon. It’s the light that for me signals reassurance and peace and safety, no matter what. It’s the way the light shines in good weather or bad. Any day of the week. Any month. Any year. How it shines and shines, even when no one needs it, even when no one sees it. It shines because one day someone will need it; one day it will save a life.We all need lighthouses in our lives. We need someone to turn to, to help us not crash on the rocks. We need a light to point the way. We need reassurance when we feel alone and vulnerable. We need the safety of the light, the comfort of the signal. We need to know which way is home.They sometimes call lighthouses simply “lights.” The light for me is God and His Word, and sometimes people who point me to Him. What’s your light? - By C. West

* * *

You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light (Psalm 18:28*).

The Lord will be your everlasting light (Isaiah 60:20b).

Let us walk in the light of the Lord (Isaiah 2:5).

God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5b).

The Lord is my light and my salvation–whom shall I fear? (Psalm 27:1).

* * *

As I rounded a bend in the road I saw the beacon, standing tall on a promontory. 

Its foundations were deeply anchored in the rock on which it stood. It stretched to the sky, unmoved by storms and gales, tides and time, faithfully sending out its light. All the churning, crashing waters couldn’t bring it down. Even the worst storms, with their torrents of rain and hail and snow, couldn’t extinguish the light.

But what about me? Am I the beacon God wants me to be?

We should all be beacons, especially as we see the night approach and storms gather on the horizon.

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

By C. C. Bell

*All verses are from the New International Version of the Bible.

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