One of my goals for this summer is to visit at least 6 local lighthouses. A couple of weeks ago I visited the third one on my list (pictured above). This little red lighthouse is located in Fort Washington Park along the Hudson River in New York City. It is actually known as, The Little Red Lighthouse (officially Jeffrey’s Hook Light) and it sits on a small sharp rocky point just a few feet away from the George Washington Bridge a.k.a the GWB.
Every lighthouse has a story. Many of them have gained recognition because of their history, design and/or location. However, this little red lighthouse’s rise to fame came about as a result of a 1942 children’s storybook titled, “The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge” written by Hildegarde Swift and illustrated by Lynd Ward. But before I give you a summary of the book, which is the basis for this week’s devotion, let me tell you a little bit about the lighthouse.
This 40 ft cast iron tower was originally built in 1880 and served as the North Hook Beacon at Sandy Hook, NJ until it became obsolete and was decommissioned in 1917. After standing strong for almost 40 years it was dismantled and placed in storage until 1921 when it was reconstructed at its current location in NYC. However, ten years later and at the completion of the George Washington Bridge, the lighthouse was once again rendered obsolete. In order to prevent it from being auctioned off, an outpouring of support by fans (mostly parents and children) of The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge rallied against its removal and successfully prompted its preservation by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Today, this little red lighthouse is the centerpiece of a small New York City park and a beloved children’s literary landmark.
I haven’t set foot in a library in decades! Luckily, my wife recently got a card from a library just a few yards away from her job. So obviously, I asked her to borrow The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge so I could read it. This story is about a small lighthouse whose job is to warn the boats on the Hudson River of the dangerous rocks nearby. Every night a man (the keeper) has to climb up its stairs to turn on the light. During foggy nights he must also wind a clock that is attached to its warning bell. This gives the lighthouse a sense of purpose and importance, at least for a little while. One day the lighthouse becomes confound as it watches this great gray bridge being built right over it. Once completed, the bridge overshadows the little lighthouse making it feel small and insignificant. To make matters worse, the bridge has a very big light and the little lighthouse ends up feeling totally useless.
sometimes small can be mighty
One night, a storm arrives along with heavy fog, but the keeper never shows up to turn on its light or wind the bell’s clock. Now the lighthouse is convinced that it will never shine again. However, the dense fog does not allow the boats on the river to see the light atop the bridge and since the lighthouse’s light and bell are off a “fat black tug” helplessly crashes against the rocks. The bridge immediately calls to the lighthouse for help, reassuring it that it is still needed. The keeper suddenly appears and makes his way to the lighthouse to activate it once again. Little Red is now operational and very glad to know that it is still important. It realizes that sometimes “small can be mighty!”
Have you ever felt rejected, unimportant or insignificant like the little red lighthouse? Perhaps you have felt inadequate, unprepared, unqualified or even unworthy, especially when compared to others who are more eloquent, outspoken, talented or even “spiritual” than you are. The Bible says that once you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior not only are you a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17) but you actually become a child of the living God (John 1:12). If that alone does not give you a sense of worth, importance, and confidence in regard to who you are, then how about this?
- You are holy, unblemished and blameless (Colossians 1:22)
- You are an heir of God and co-heir with Christ Jesus (Romans 8:16-17)
- You are part of a royal priesthood, God’s special possession (1 Peter 2:9)
- You are a friend of God (John 15:14,15)
- You are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
- You are an ambassador of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20)
- You are God’s masterpiece, created with a purpose (Ephesians 2:10)
- You are blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesian 1:3)
- You are the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21)
- You are God’s beloved (Colossians 3:12)
It took a young shepherd boy to defeat a mighty warrior who terrorized the ranks of Israel (1 Samuel 17). It was a child who provided his small meal to miraculously feed over 6,000 hungry people (John 6). Naaman was healed of leprosy because he trusted a little slave girl (2 Kings 5). God used the curiosity of a small man, who was actually despised because of his profession, to change his life forever (Luke 19).
So, no matter where you are, whether at church, work, school, incarcerated, in a hospital bed, among friends or just sitting there wondering what’s your purpose in life, know that you are important to God. So important and so loved by Him that he sent His only Son, Jesus, to die as a ransom for your sins and offer you eternal life (John 3:16). Don’t compare yourself to anyone, let alone those who appear to be “greater” than you. God is no respecter of persons. He does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11). He has blessed us all with different gifts and as part of the body of Christ, we ALL play an important role in advancing His kingdom. As long as you remain humble, obedient, and willing to serve God, He can and will use you. Remember that (in God) small can be mighty!
Prayer: Almighty Father, thank you for being mindful of me. When I least deserved it you loved me and paid a great price for my salvation. You thought I was worth it and therefore I find my purpose and my worth in you. Lead me and guide me so that I may fulfill your plan for my life. In Jesus name I pray, amen.