The Pemaquid Point Lighthouse (pictured above) was first built in 1827. It measures 79 ft. and it is located at the tip of the Pemaquid Neck in Bristol, Maine. Pemaquid Point attracts over 100,000 visitors every year, making it one of the most visited sites in New England and among the favorite of artists, photographers, and lighthouse aficionados. Did you know that the Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was the first lighthouse to appear on American currency? It was used for the 2003 official Main quarter dollar.¹ And yes, of course, this beacon is on my list of New England lighthouses to visit.
The original lighthouse did not last very long. Just eight years after its completion the structure began to crumble. Its accelerated deterioration was blamed on the use of salt water in the mortar. In the 1835 contract that was drawn to rebuild the tower, it was clearly stated that only fresh water was to be used.
Much has been written about the benefits and dangers of salt. It is considered as both a blessing and a curse. Some dietary reports recommend it while others discourage it.
Even in non-nutritional applications, you will find that salt has both favorable and unfavorable results. For example, rock salt is used for clearing (melting) ice from roads and pathways. However, since salt accelerates corrosion, vehicles and other structures exposed to rock salt tend to rust and deteriorate at a faster rate.
The reason the Pemaquid Point tower failed in such a short period of time was that seawater was added to mix the mortar used for binding the stones. Perhaps it was an honest mistake by the builder who may have had to improvise. But I highly doubt that it was ignorance on the part of the engineer since by the 19th century, it was already known that salt crystals weakened cement by decreasing its compression and that it greatly accelerated the corrosion of rebar.
We all know that salt “the salt of the earth.”
Just as salt gives food a rich and pleasing taste, we are to “give a good flavor” to everyone we interact with. In other words, there should be something in our character, conduct, and speech that shows evidence of God’s goodness. People should be able to be around us and, as the Psalmist said, “Taste and see that the Lord is good!”
But the Bible also mentions the destructive and decaying power of salt. In Psalm 107 we read that one of Israel’s punishment for being rebellious and evil was that God turned its fruitful land into salty waste. In Jeremiah 17 the Lord declares that those who put their trust in people and in their own strength will live in a desolate land of salt. And again in Zephaniah 2, the judgment against Moab would include desolated lands with salt pits. These references all point to the fact that a salty terrain is one where nothing grows, both in the physical and spiritual sense.
Since ancient times, salt has been used as a preservative. Do you know exactly how that works? Basically, salt draws water out of cells via the process of osmosis. By absorbing water from foods, it makes the environment too dry to sustain harmful mold or bacteria.
So, that got me thinking. As lighthouses for God, we must be careful not to contaminate ourselves with the dangerous salts of this depraved world. You know, those enhancers that make life taste just a little better but that actually absorb (draw out) the living water of Christ in us. Things like occasional “white” lies, temporary glances in the wrong direction, provocative fashions, or extracurricular activities/opportunities that call for spiritual/moral compromises. Unlike natural salt, these “worldly flavors,” among others, do not destroy that which is bad but rather that which is good, like integrity, trustworthiness, unhindered praise, and the desire to pursue holiness in general.
So, while there is good salt, that which Jesus calls us to be, there is also bad salt, that which we are called to stay away from. I cannot point out let alone convict you of everything that can and will cause your spiritual life to crumble like the original Pemaquid lighthouse or to become desolate like the Bolivian salt flats. But what I can do is advise you to stay away from those worldly salts that can damage your relationship with Christ. And what those things are can only be revealed to you by following God’s spiritual dietary plan found in His holy Word, and by taking heed to the voice of the Holy Spirit when He convicts your heart. In fact, He may be talking to you right now through this devotion.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, you have called me to be a light and to be the salt of the earth. Guard my mind and my heart that I may faithfully shine in this dark world and flavor it with the goodness of your grace and love. Help me to discern those things that may seem harmless but which are like poisonous bacteria to my soul. May my life be seasoned by your Word and may it radiate the light of your salvation everywhere I go. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.