As a kid, I was always fascinated by impossible bottles specifically, the traditional and most popular one known as Ship in a Bottle. And like most, I also wondered how in the world they got those amazing multi-sail vessels inside the bottle through the small mouth and narrow neck. I never actually owned a ship in a bottle. Perhaps it was because mom knew it wasn’t a toy and it was way too much to spend on a dust collecting ornament. But by the time I was able to afford one (completed or as a kit) the fad was already over. Well, at least it was for me. There have been and always will be hobbyists who enjoy building and/or collecting ships in a bottle.
I have since come across a few other impossible bottles like the penny in a bottle, the sand and seashell in a bottle, and the playing card in a bottle. But can you imagine my surprise and excitement when I recently came across lighthouses in a bottle?!
Now combine one of those classic schooners with a faith-inspiring beacon and what do you get? Something I am definitely saving up for. Too bad my birthday already passed! But then again, there is Christmas (hint, hint).
Lighthouses in a bottle remind me of the 2013 American Sci-Fi/Mystery/Drama titled, Under The Dome, which is based on a Stephen King novel of the same name. This 3 season TV series tells the story of a mysterious force field that suddenly descends upon a small town trapping its residents inside and cutting them off from the rest of civilization. As a result, they are forced to learn to live in unity and work together in order to find a way to escape the invisible glass-like dome. All the while battling the expected selfish survival instincts among them.
When I consider the spiritual condition of the church today it’s obvious that far too many of God’s lighthouses are trapped in a spiritual bottle that cuts them off from the rest of the world —the world that so desperately needs the light of Jesus. Sure, there are many beacons out there shining and leading souls to salvation, but let’s be honest, there are more inside the bottle than those who are out. The saddest part is that not only are they not shining where they ought to, but they are content with just standing where they are looking pretty in their Sunday clothes or breaking bread in their club-like fellowships. To make matters worse, at times they end up so happy and comfortable that all they have left to do is contend with, criticize, and judge each other. They end up like those trapped Under the Dome battling over selfish and petty issues instead of looking for ways to get out of the church to be the church.
Perhaps this is the least inspirational of all my devotions so far, but I believe that in order to inspire the body of Christ to be the lighthouse it was intended to be it must be admonished and reminded of its true purpose. It needs to turn on its inactivate beacons and begin to shine as one so that the whole world can see that there is a safe place for all who are heavy laden and weary.
Are you a lighthouse in a bottle?
Does going to church, singing some hymns, listening to a sermon, and contributing financially to the ministry make you feel spiritually complete?
Are you more comfortable hanging around with other Christians than sharing your faith with nonbelievers?
Do you believe that praying for missionaries and supporting them financially fulfills the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19)?
If you answer yes to any one of these questions then you are a lighthouse in a bottle. And if you are, in order to fulfill your true purpose, you need to pray earnestly to God and ask the Holy Spirit to shatter whatever force field is keeping you trapped in a religious dome. Then you need to step out boldly and begin shining your light into the world. Remember, other lighthouses don’t need you. The ships lost at sea are the ones that are in dire need of a light to warn, guide and lead them to safe harbor (Jesus).
Prayer: All-knowing and everpresent God search my heart. Reveal and remove anything that may keep me trapped inside a selfish spiritual bottle. Open my eyes to see the world as you see it. Deposit a greater burden and passion in me so that I may boldly proclaim the Gospel of truth. May my light shine outside the walls of religiosity and provide the peace, hope, and love that so many are searching for in all the wrong places. In the name of Jesus my Lord, I pray, Amen.
“…I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” -John 4:35b
“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” – 2 Timothy 2:23
“preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” -2Timothy 4:2 (NASB)
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts!” -Psalm 139:23 (ESV)
“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28 (KJV)
-ALL SCRIPTURE IS QUOTED FROM THE NIV EXCEPT WHERE SPECIFIED.