Lighthouses have always stirred up my imagination. These sentinel towers stand alone, as guardians of the night watch. Located on rocky outcroppings, these structures are built close to the sea, yet they can withstand the most violent storms. Depending on the height of the lighthouse, their light beams can be seen up to 10-20 miles away on clear nights. In order to warn passing ships about shoals and rocky coastlines, the moaning sound of the lighthouse’s foghorn carries far across the water. Without these landmarks having rotating lights, and booming sounds, the possibility of shipwreck seems more believable. A ship lacking navigational equipment could easily run aground in fog or darkness.
Twenty years ago, I wanted to start a painting of a lighthouse. I searched for an inspiring example on the Oregon coast. Not finding one that caught my eye, I decided to make a collage of photos, and in that way, I could put together the best parts of each. I wanted to portray tempestuous waves crashing against the rocks below a cliff. I would show a beam of light coming from the lighthouse. It would penetrate the clouds that were trying to obscure the moon. I hoped to depict an unshakable lighthouse bravely facing a merciless gale. As I applied paint to my canvas, I never could have expected that I was painting a harbinger of what was to come.
About three weeks later, my husband and I were out one evening listening to a band that was performing “the oldies.” While standing next to me, he experienced a sudden, massive heart attack and collapsed. He was gone.
I was traumatized. For weeks I was enveloped by the darkness of grief. In tears, I would gaze at my finished painting and cry out, “Lord, I too am in a fierce storm. The night is so dark, and violent waves threaten to overwhelm me. Lord, be my lighthouse. I won’t make it if I can’t see your light.”
One day, after weeks of grieving, I was listening to the radio. A new song by Josh Groban was being played. The title was, “You Raise Me Up.” The lyrics comforted my broken heart. I knew then that the Lord was sending the light of His love to guide me through the turbulence of my personal storm.
After the recent pandemic, many are floundering on the stormy seas of grief. Without a beacon in the darkness, they are unable to establish their position. They are lost and sailing toward destruction. In our peril, Jesus promises never to leave or forsake us. (See Deuteronomy 31:6).
The Lord cares for those who mourn. Scripture reveals that as He hung upon the cross, Jesus bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. (See Isaiah 53:4). After re-reading that text, I finally realized He had already taken my sorrow and grief. Why then was I still trying to carry that misery? In the storm of my despair, I had gotten off-course. I was adrift. On the day of that realization, I laid down my distress. I focused instead on the beams from “God’s lighthouse” - the far-reaching radiance of His love.
As we follow His saving light, He will silence our storm-tossed lives, calm the raging waves, and guide us to a safe harbor.
“You stilled the roaring of the seas, the pounding of their waves,
and the tumult of the nations.” Psalm 65:7 (BSB)