We went on vacation and found God all along the 101 as I mentioned in last few posts. The third day we landed in Florence, Oregon. It was gorgeous. Our first trip to the beach found us in the center of an investigation due to a plane crash that had occurred that day. We were unable to go jump waves and build sand castles, but how can you complain when someone else has actually lost their husband, son, and grandchild on Father’s Day. It was a weird scene especially for a chick who has a severe fear of flying after enduring a small plane crash myself. We went into town and walked along the picturesque main street of this historic town on the edge of the ocean and sand dunes that seem to go into forever.
The following day, my dear Aunt Jan, who has a gift for hospitality that feels like it’s wrapped in an actual package with a bow on top, told us about this great lighthouse we should check out. We drove through the windy roads of 101 and got sidetracked at the sea lion caves. When we got to the lighthouse, we first toured an old historic home. Our tour guide was really somethin’. He started his informational vomiting with some statement about his wife wanting him out of the house. After 20 minutes of his cheesy jokes and his eukele playing and song singing, we knew exactly why the ol’ lady made such requests.
We gladly scurried to the lighthouse after that tour. We walked up the staircase that led to the top. This tour guide explained why such lighthouses are necessary. She explained how each lighthouse has different colored lights and/ or differing amounts of time that those lights revolve, so that a lost sailor who yearns for home but has no idea where he is, could look at the light and the color it emits and how often and fast it revolves and it would tell him exactly where he was. He could look at a map and the light’s personality, if you will, would locate a sailor’s coordinates so that he could, through fog and storm, journey toward home.
Now I have to tell you that I was stunned. Not stunned, like you would be if Elvis was really still alive, but the kind of stunned when you learn something new and realize you have been wrong all along. I had always thought, and maybe I am the only one, because I am blond. But I had always thought that lighthouses were for refuge. I always thought they told stranded ships “Hey, if you are lost or need help, there is land here. There is help here.” I feel like the typical Christian lighthouse illustration makes a lighthouse to be that which shines light in the darkness. That might be partially true, but lighthouses are not shining light for refuge but for navigation. Lighthouses are letting people who cant find their way know where they are, so they know where they need to go.
I started thinking about that. Sometimes we don’t need a refuge. Sometimes we need navigation. Sometimes we need a light that tells us exactly where we are at, how deep the waters are, where our current location is and in what direction we should point our sails. And sometimes that is what other people need too.
If you want to be a lighthouse in a world of people who are in deep water, who are surrounded by fog and just want to get home but have no idea how to, don’t just flash some big blinding light in their eyes and say “You are in the dark. This is what light looks like.” People don’t need that. Especially people that you deem as dark and you think need the LIGHT. You know what they need? Warm, kind, soft, gentle light that provides navigation.
I started thinking about this as I watched this crazy light with facet after fact spin speaking to the boats at bay telling them where they are. And I thought, how can I be a person that helps people navigate where they are and where they need to go to get toward home, toward safety, toward their destination?
Navigation sometimes looks like sitting with someone and processing for longer than you really want to, a decision that needs to be made. Navigation sometimes looks like speaking truth to someone you are really concerned about because the waters they travel are so shallow they are about to get landlocked. Navigation sometimes looks like guiding someone toward the help they need even if it means you helping them get it. Navigation is not just saying you are LOST. Navigation and light always illuminate the path on which one is on.
Sometimes I think people who want nothing to do with Jesus want nothing to do with Him because His people often just scream, “You are lost! You are screwed! You are wrong and the dark.” Or we just stand on a hill and shine pretty saying “We are over here enjoying safety sharing some smiles from up here on our hill while you are lost at sea!” We often do very little to help illuminate the way out of that darkness. Yet we are called to be people like our Lord.
When a community had handcuffed a man and scorned him over and over again trying to tame his darkness, Jesus entered the cutter’s life and sat with him until he was in his right mind. When grown men decided to take out their beliefs self righteously on a slut, Jesus stood with her despite the risk. He stood with this woman who was just caught in the act of sleeping with someone other than her husband until all her accusers were gone and then Jesus pointed light in the direction she should go. When religious people had lost complete sight of those in darkness, Jesus got ticked off and went postal outside the temple because they were using the one place that really lost, irreligious people could come and worship as a marketplace to make money.
Remember what Jesus said in Luke 11:46 to the people who were supposed to be “like God”: “And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry, and you yourselves will not lift one finger to help them.” Jesus, in a sense was saying: You don’t just enter into relationship telling people what is wrong with them unless you yourself are willing to help lift it! You don’t just scream “You are in the dark!” unless you yourself are willing to help shine light to navigate their path!
Sometimes, I imagine…and in my wild imagination, I dream in color and with fierce hope. And in wild color and fierce hope, I dream of a church and its people who will begin being the light of the world like Jesus is. It is in fact the one thing He says, He is, that we are. You are the light of the world. Matthew 5:14
And when I imagine, I imagine you and me helping navigate the way for young teenage men who’ve lost their fathers. And I imagine us holding the hands of widows and sitting next to them as they look back and recall beautiful love stories and as they look ahead and hope for more. I imagine us investing in the ragtag kid, who is our neighborhood trouble maker, and instead of running from what might rub off on us, we invest, so that Light will rub off on him. I imagine us not just preaching, but showing up bedside to those who have given up and saying like Christ, I will not just see you sunday, but I will sit with you until you are in your right mind. I imagine us no longer living to prove we are “lighter” than our brother and our sister, but instead living to light up the path home for all those walking it.
Now I know my imagination can run away with me, but I am pretty sure Jesus not only imagines this, He said it to be so. You are the light of the world. If it be so, be the kind of lighthouse that brings other sailors home.