Friday, August 15, 2008

Let the lower lights be burning...

President Edwards spoke one time about the significance of lighthouses. Michigan has more shoreline than any state in the union, so there are many lighthouses here. We've been able to visit only a few, but we loved the story he told, which is the basis of the song "Brightly Beams Our Father's Mercy".

Many years ago, in a dark and ferocious storm, the captain of a sailing vessel approached land and signaled the lighthouseman that he must find a port. He was signaled back to come along the shore as close as he dare and try to make the channel, that was the entrance to the safety of the bay. Once again a signal; "I will, but where are the lower lights", and the answer, "they've all gone out for the night - can you make it"?
The captain answered that he must, or they would perish. He tried to find the channel, but without the lower lights, the ship crashed upon the rocks, and all on board were lost. We learned that the "lower lights" spoken of were the houses built along the shore of the channel. All the people had gone to bed, so all the lights were out. The writer of the song, Philip Paul Bliss, was so touched by this story that he penned the music and text to the song we've heard and sung for years, but have never fully understood.

"Brightly beams our Father's mercy
From His lighthouse evermore,
But to us He gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.

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

"Trim your feeble lamps, 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.

What a very simple but beautiful reminder to each of us how important we are to those around us. So many are lost and "tempest tossed". Those of us who know and love the Lord can help them "make the harbor" through our encouragement, love, and guidance to Him. And in the end, how wonderful if we could be the means of rescue and saving.
We've had impressed upon our minds more than ever before how very much our Heavenly Father needs His children here to watch out for and care for one another - to be His hands and His voice. By small means are great things brought to pass, and lives are touched and blessed in ways we often do not know.
Today though, it seems so clear...we pray we may each keep the "lower lights" of our testimony and love of God burning brightly to be "the lights along the shore".


betty said...

I had forgotten how much I loved listening to Tennessee Ernie Ford! Thank you for another great post....I needed the lift.

On Purpose said...

Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving me such beautiful words. I will continue to pray for Heidi knowing God has great plans for her.


Marilyn Ehlers said...

Thank you for sharing that beautiful and touching story. I haven't thought about that particular song in a while and it was especially nice to remember it knowing what it actually means. Nice touch with Tennessee Ernie Ford singing it. I always liked him and his music. I always look forward to reading your new posts. I love it that you are doing and enjoying God's work so much. I'd be hard put to think of anyone who has the capacity to do it better. You each have your strengths and the combination of your strengths must be absolutely remarkable. You are where the Lord wanted and needed you the most. We love you.

KDThompson said...

What a wonderful message and a great reminder that we need to aware that we are a beacon to others. I love that story Mary, thanks so much for sharing it with us. Love you so much.

Brett said...

Thanks for the history behind the song. This hymn is so inspirational to me! I just love it.