“…the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” Matthew 4:16
And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. Luke 17:6
We just returned from Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts. It is a beautiful and rustic place where the old is, indeed, very old. Many of the communities on the island were settled in the mid-1600s. Its seafaring past is evident everywhere. Upon the roofs of many of old homes near the waterfront is a rectangular platform, bound by a low fence — a widow’s walk. These viewing platforms were said to have been used by the wives of mariners, who anxiously awaited their husbands’ return to port. Harbors and anchorages surround the island; but there are also rocky reefs and points that remind of the dangers of the sea. To help protect those on the waves, six lighthouses dot the island.
As we looked upon the old structures, I was struck by how many souls must have been saved from a terrible death by those lighthouses. I was also struck by how such beacons worked to save lives. When seaman saw the lighthouse, they knew danger was at hand. They turned their ship away because of that light. No one knew the identity of the lighthouse keeper, his background, his politics, his family, or his skin color. To navigate around danger based upon the lighthouse was a true act of faith. But it was not faith in the keeper of the lighthouse; it was faith in the light.
I think this is this kind of faith we are called to have. Many have seen and experienced the great light, but we mistake the identity of the deliverer with that of the object – the light. And that misplaced faith has had its pitfalls. Frequently we revere people – mere men, for their acts and proclamations. We sometimes blindly follow the lead of these admired ones, without really discerning what it is they have done or said. And many times, that turns out badly.
My message for today: trust not in the bearer; trust in the light.