You’ve heard of lighthouses, but have you heard of or ever seen a lightship? If you have, then you are more of an aficionado than I am or you are just simply blessed. I didn’t even know such things existed. Pictured above is one of several lightships still in existence.
Lightships are vessels that were built to act as substitute lighthouse towers to assist other ships in navigation. They were stationed in areas where either the waters were too deep, weather conditions were volatile, and/or where the lack of solid grounds made it impossible to build an actual lighthouse. The first lightship to be put in operation was the Nore Sandbank. It was placed at the mouth of the Thames River in England back in 1734. Eventually, advancements in marine construction and architecture gave way to modern lighthouses which greatly limited the need for these lightvessels. About 15 lightships can still be found in different parts of the U.S. today.
In my search for inspiration, I have come across some pretty fascinating lighthouses. From the tallest to the smallest and from the oldest to the most modern-styled, I have been intrigued by the designs and the stories behind some of the most amazing sentinels of the sea. Up until now, I always thought of a lighthouse as a stationary tower built upon an unmovable foundation. That is why my muse was immediately awakened when I stumbled upon these mobile beacons known as lightships.
As spiritual lighthouses, we were made to shine God’s light for all to see. Therefore, we shouldn’t limit its radiance to our immediate surroundings only. How about we intentionally navigate into the treacherous seas of humanity to bring His light to those who are in deep troubled waters? In other words, how about we go beyond our churches, homes, workplaces, and neighborhoods and venture into the ghettos, prisons, and unevangelized territories to be the saving light Jesus called us to be? We may not all be called to pack our bags and head to the jungles of Guatemala or the tribal plains of Africa, but we can all join or organize a group that will act as lightships to sail towards those who desperately need to hear the Gospel and witness the love of God through our acts of generosity and compassion.
I’ve heard it say that our mission field is found right in our community, but I beg to differ. The term “convenience” can be applied not only to those local stores where one can readily find staples at any given time but also to places we frequently visit like medical clinics, schools, shopping centers, restaurants, parks, etc. Because of our familiarity with these places, we most likely trivialize our responsibility towards the Great Commission. I believe that when Jesus said, “Go into all the world…” He meant just that. To go into places that are unfamiliar, remote, places outside our convenience. And we can all fulfill that command by getting rid of our lame excuses, allowing God’s word to change our selfish attitudes, and step out in faith and obedience to go and make disciples. Paul encouraged us to tend not only to our own needs but also to the needs of others. But we won’t always know what the needs of others are unless we leave our comfortable shores and navigate towards the deep waters of this world where the destitute and those who are ignorant of the Gospel message are sailing aimlessly and without hope.
Jesus said that the poor will always be among us. And until this world is finally redeemed there will also be those who have yet to hear the Good News of salvation. So, how about asking God for the opportunity to be a lightship for a change? How about you continue to shine right where you are, but every once in a while step out and “go” take that light to places that others would purposely avoid?
Prayer: Oh Lord God, stir my heart with the desire to shine your light beyond my immediate surroundings. Allow me to navigate towards the deep waters where souls are lost and in dire need of your saving grace. May your love and compassion for the world be the motivation that encourages me to be a lighthouse and a lightship at the same time. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.