The waves are so dark they are nearly black, and they tower above the rocks with their manes of foam. They tower also above the half-submerged ship, dwarfing its captain. The man has never before felt such a cold rush of fear as when that next big wave crashes hungrily over him. And while fighting for his next breath, the captain doesn't know that the vague pillar he can just barely make out ahead is a lighthouse.
If he could see the beacon, it would be a bulwark of hope, a promise of life, a rope to a drowning man. But he cannot see any beacon, only the outline of the building itself, for the lighthouse light is not beaming out into the deathly waves, but is turned within. It is spotlighting itself.
Every nation in the world gazes with their last hope at the hill before them. Brutality more cruel than they could ever imagine defeats them. Uprisings more sinister than any yet seen divide them. Debauchery more profane than one could even whisper of shames them. And so they gaze at the hill, at the city on the hill, hoping for a love to beautify, hoping for a leader to unify, hoping for righteousness to purify. But their hopes are crushed at the foot of that hill for, crane their necks as they will, they can see nothing.
The city, the great city upon which the eyes of the world were pinned, must still be there, but it cannot be seen. The city is now invisible.
The surgeon swipes the dripping sweat from his forehead with the back of his hand. With bleary eyes, he examines his shining tools once again, laid out for the tenuous operation he is about to undertake. He is ready, and strides across the silent cabin to sterilize his hands in the sink before he begins. When he is finished, he turns to speak to the wife and daughter, to comfort them with what words of encouragement he can give. But as he turns, the flickering light, the precious flame that is to be his right hand in the operation, is shadowed, and he catches sight of the daughter enclosing the candle in a sooty lantern. “What are you doing?” He cries, stopping just short of gripping her hand. That candle—without it her father will die, and the surgeon is desperate.
“Oh, don’t worry,” she replies calmly, shutting the lantern door. “It is just that the light becomes more gorgeous when it glimmers from inside the lantern. Don’t you think this light it is much more mysterious than the flame of the candle by itself?” The surgeon narrows his eyes at her in horror. Can she be serious? The life-giving light is all but obliterated by the sooty lantern!
The lighthouse spotlights itself.
The city set on the hill hides itself.
The candle is shrouded by its own soot.
The lighthouse is so consumed by its own glory that it twists its whole purpose in being.
The city on the hill is so devoted to its own cause that it withdraws from its whole purpose in being.
The candle in the house is so blinded by its own lack that it denies its whole purpose in being.
I am a lighthouse to the men caught on the rocks of the world: but when I turn that God-given light on myself, men perish while my self-esteem is petted.
I am the city set on the hill to nations craving hope, but when I hide myself lest I be tainted by those polluted nations, men die while my ego remains elevated.
I am the candle in the miserable, dark house of sickness, but when I deny my very identity for fear of my small flame not being enough, men bleed to death while my idol of self remains enthroned.
Pride. It's a matter of life and death.
“Let your light so shine before men, they they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” ~Matthew 5:13-16
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Photo Credit: Steve Wilson