Reflections on a Lighthouse
Lighthouses have fascinated people for a long time. But what gives these rather functional landmarks their almost-mystical allure? Perhaps it is the solitary nature of a facility that serves one very simple purpose: to provide warning and a refuge for those whose lives could be in danger.
Part of the allure has been the natural danger associated with lighthouses. One stretch of the French coast proved to be dangerous for many a seaman.The La Jument area has claimed many lives as the result of spectacular accidents. In 1896, 250 people died there in a single incident.
It wasn't until 1911, when the La Jument lighthouse was completed, that sea captains began to feel a sense of security there. Wanting to capture that on film, world-renowned photographer Jean Guichard flew to La Jument on December 21, 1989 to attempt some aerial photographs of the lighthouse. A raging storm made the shoot impossible for several days. Finally, Guichard opted to brave the elements and take his helicopter out to the spectacular scene.
The lighthouse keepers were holding on tight, hoping the structure would resist the immense waves crashing against it. Incredibly, one keeper intrigued by the noise of the helicopter dared to open the door and step out, allowing Guichard to shoot his series of seven world-famous photos. The final photo reveals the keeper making a harrowing escape back into the doorway just as a massive breaker deluges the lighthouse. (To see some of these spectacular scenes, check out http://nersp.nerdc.ufl.edu/~cff/lighthouses.html.)
I don't know of a better illustration for the role that Christian professors and staff play on today's campuses. Representing a stable beacon of the light of truth, professors offer a place of refuge for students often caught up in the turmoil of ideas in the academy. When faced with every ethical dilemma imaginable; when struggling with being away from the support structure of their home; when challenged to abandon their faith at every turn; Christian professors can be a lighthouse of prayer and outreach to students and colleagues around them.
Over the next few weeks I'd like to explore how we can be more effective lighthouses to those around us. If you have any ideas or insights, I would appreciate hearing from you.
Scripture: Matthew 5:15, 16 -- Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on a stand, and it gives light to everyone...."
Action Point: What difference would it make in your university if every department on your campus had one or more spiritual "lighthouses" -- faith-filled individuals who were praying for the university and seeking to be a creative outreach? Are *you* willing to be such a lighthouse?
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