About the only thing that the sailors could be certain about was the fact that their lives would soon end unless something changed quickly. They were not sure where they were, but they knew from the depth soundings that they were getting closer to land. Without warning, the next big wave could hurdle them onto a rocky coast and smash the ship to pieces. They were exhausted from the constant struggle day and night to keep the ship upright and afloat. Whenever the ship rose to the top of a swell, they strained their eyes through the stinging spray and blackness for a light.
Then a new shout cut through the shriek of the wind as it screamed through the rigging. This was a shout of hope, and not the shout of commands and warning. Everyone’s eyes strained for another glimpse, and the brief flash was unmistakable. With renewed strength, the sailors battled the storm. The light pierced the raging storm, and with its guidance, the sailors were able to bring the ship into a harbor that was sheltered from the huge waves and relentless winds. Here was peace at last.
God reveals to us in His word that any life apart from the law of God, life in the world as man walks in his own sinful pride and rebellion against God, is like an ocean troubled by a fierce storm. In Psalm 18:4 we read that “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid.” In the book of Revelation, the great whore sat upon the waters and God explained that “The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues” (Rev. 17:15). This truth is quite clear as we look around with our own eyes at the world. The scandals, troubles, murders, pain and suffering never seem to end. Even so, there are many who see no real danger, and imagine that they can enjoy the wild ride. Although they may recognize the physical and emotional danger, the real danger is spiritual; and unless God has opened one’s eyes, he does not believe the danger is real. The ungodly ride the waves in a drunken mayhem and are destroyed on the rocks right at the very foot of the lighthouse.
God has been pleased to place His people in the midst of this world. We experience the troubles, sense the awful destruction that is sure to come. And then by grace alone, God plucks us from eternal hell and gives us a taste of the peace that can only come from covenant fellowship with God. We taste that peace as we live in thankful obedience to God. We taste the misery, sorrow and grief of hell as our old man of sin continues to blunder into the storm tossed sea of self-seeking proud rebellion.
The ups and downs, the waves of this life, are very real to each one of us every day. Children often begin with their fights and squabbles in the home. In school they suffer the rejection of peers, the reality that they are not as smart or attractive to others as they had imagined, and the shame and guilt of disobedience. As we grow older, we experience more frustrations with dating relationships, our place in this world, conflict with parents and other authorities, and emotional struggles of one sort or another. We are tossed about with false doctrine, temptations, and new moral dilemmas in medical ethics. As life in the church continues, we begin to see more clearly just how sinful we are and all the sorrow and grief that comes from that sin. We look about and see endless bickering, people of God who refuse to talk to one another, gross sin exposed, and sorrow. We realize how caught up we are in the riches of this world. We also see how vain earthly treasures are, and life begins to look very dark. How thrilling it is to spot the beacons of light that guide us toward the enjoyment of peace; the peace that passes all understanding and exposes the folly of the thrills that deceive the ungodly into a false sense of peace.
God has been pleased to send us into the terrors of this life of sin, but he does not leave us in the dark storm tossed sea without guiding lights. The first light that the child of God comes to know is the word of God that his parents bring. Not only do they bring God’s word in their instruction, they demonstrate the peace, contentment, and joy that comes with diligent prayer and a willingness to submit to the cross of Christ. They demonstrate in the time they spend with their children that the pursuit of riches and a “fulfilling” career are vain imaginations. They gladly give of the first fruits to the church and teach their children to be content with what is left.
Each week parents bring their children to the house of God where they hear the voice of Christ himself as he speaks through the preaching. Only the voice of Christ has the power to still the storm. The disciples experienced this truth is the most graphic, hands on way possible. As the disciples cried out in despair during the fierce storm, Jesus said unto them “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm” (Matt. 8:26). We here this word every Lord’s Day under the faithful preaching of God’s word. Gradually we learn to appreciate the quality and intensity of this light as it penetrates through the deepest despair even to the heart of every child of God.
Parents send us to Christian schools where, throughout the day, a beacon of light shines from the godly teacher who gives of herself to show the children how to read every skill in the light of God’s word. As do the parents, so the teacher conducts himself in a way that the children see the peace and contentment that comes with one who walks with God. As the children flounder in their sin, the teacher does not strike out with condescending horror, but patiently shows them the guiding light of God’s word. They experience the security that comes with looking to the light when they find themselves anxious, despairing, and lost in the world.
As you grow to experience the calm waters of covenant fellowship with God, we must not hide that light under a bushel. Sometimes the only light that a fellow saint is able to see in her time of trouble is the light from a peer. Don’t be afraid or hesitant to say “no” to the gossip, the thrill of rebellion, or a lazy self-seeking attitude that will bring you deep into the dark restless misery of the ungodly. Don’t hesitate to lay down your pride and speak a word of encouragement, befriend an outcast, or devote time to prayer and meditation. God sends you to shine as a light that will pierce through the storm to a lost and troubled soul.
One light that cannot continue to shine without your help is this very publication, the Beacon Lights. Many have found hope and guidance from words that have been penned by Christians like you. Think about the thousands of young people out there who might flop with a despairing sigh into the couch or bed and spot Beacon Lights sitting there on the end table under the television remote control. Anything you write with prayer and meditation would bring him into a peaceful harbor, but if he turns on the television, chances are it would only dull his senses to reality and deepen his sorrow in the morning.
So can they count on you: those fellow saints who every day are faced with another wave of despair? You do not need to write anything novel or spectacular. A light from a lighthouse may be a simple monotonous pulse of light, but it is joy to a believing reader. As the day of Christ’s coming draws nearer, the storm only grows in intensity, the waves churn higher into a screaming foam, and Satan does all he can to obscure the vision of God’s children from the guiding lights. There are never too many lights.