I have always loved lighthouses and when I discovered today was National Lighthouse Day, I was inspired to write about these beacons of light. These tall towers with a light to warn passing ships of potential danger have always intrigued me. These protectors of sailors have a special place in my heart for so many reasons.
But there is one lighthouse that I’ll never forget—the fourth tallest brick lighthouse in the country located in Pensacola, Florida. I was there in 2002 while in town to attend my son’s graduation from Officer’s Candidate School. To be honest, it was one of the most painful times of my life.
September 11 was still a fresh wound in everyone’s mind at the time. My son had entered the military “to keep that from happening again.” I knew that, as soon as his training was complete, he faced deployment to dangerous places. And back home, where my husband kept the home fires burning, my 23-year-old daughter was dying of a brain tumor.
My stress level was at its peak.
One day during my Pensacola stay, I saw the lighthouse looming toward the sky and begged my son to pull the car over. It drew me as if there was an invisible beacon wooing me toward safe waters.
But the deep waters in which I struggled to survive were fraught with overwhelming fear. How would I deal with the pain of my son’s future deployments? How would I face the loss of my only daughter? How could my heart and soul survive?
No answers were written in the sky.
We took several photos of my two sons standing in front of the lighthouse. Then they took some of me standing alone in front of that 160-foot-tall monolith surrounded by a tiny picket fence. When the photos were printed —these was the days prior to digital cameras—I was astonished by the images. There I stood, looking small as an ant, next to that humongous tower. I was barely visible in the shadow of the Lighthouse.
There’s something about that image that stays with me. God seemed to tell me that His strength was so much greater than mine. His ability to guide me and see me through was so much larger than my fears. His light would shine in my darkness, leading me toward still waters of comfort, in the midst of my storms.
“Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.””
John 8:12 ESV