Once again I have set a goal to visit at least 6 lighthouses this year. Last week we traveled down to Virginia Beach, Va. to attend the commencement ceremony for my wife’s graduation from Regent University. Being able to celebrate her achievement and later drive just 20 minutes to visit Cape Henry was a nice twofer. Although the trip yielded two lighthouses, the old (decommissioned) Cape Henry and the new (active) Cape Henry Lighthouse, I still consider it one visit. Of course, this is so that I have an excuse to go and explore 5 more beacons this summer!
Built in 1792, the Old Cape Henry Light was the first lighthouse to be federally funded. It was authorized by George Washington and overseen by Alexander Hamilton. The tower stands 90 feet tall next to the “First Landing” site where English settlers arrived in 1607. The lighthouse was built with Aquia Creek sandstone, the same source as the White House! It was repaired once by Union forces after suffering damage by the Confederates during the Civil War. Then in 1870 lightning struck the tower causing large cracks in the structure. This led to the construction of a taller lighthouse in 1882 just a few hundred feet away. The newer lighthouse measures 157 feet tall and was built of cast iron and wrought iron. It is not accessible to the public as it is currently active and resides on restricted US military land, but you can get pretty close to it and take pictures as long as there are no military personnel or vehicles in the background.
The first thing I noticed about the Old Cape Henry Lighthouse was the strange inscriptions at the base of the tower. A closer look revealed what was clearly (in some areas) people’s names/initials and dates. This once brightly shining beacon may no longer be operational, but on its foundation are etched names of people who have come to admire it. Perhaps one or more of these names belong to someone who was once guided by its light or who may have contributed to its reparations.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we are lighthouses for God no matter where we are or what we do. Our commission to reach others with the saving light of the Gospel is more than a privilege, it is the amazing ability to be an extension of God’s mouth, hands, and feet. As a result of that, we can and should produce works that will have a positive impact (leave a mark) on the lives of those whom we interact with even if for a short period of time. Here are a few ways to leave a good mark:
Many are going through life crises alone and/or are headed to an eternity separated from God because very few are willing to sacrifice time in order to share with them the message of hope and salvation. Talk to people, engage them, and empathize with them, especially if you see them downcast or seemingly troubled.
Find and join volunteer groups that feed the hungry or join a ministry that visits the incarcerated, those in hospitals or nursing homes. If you are reading this, you are most likely better off than many people who don’t have a place to call home, a job, or an electronic device to surf the web. Count your blessings right now. You’ll realize that you have enough to share.
Step out of your comfort zone to serve, show hospitality, and care for people in your own church family. We can have a greater impact if we take care of and minister to those close to us first. Remember, Jesus himself said that the best way to show the world that we are His disciples is by the love we show one another (John 13:35).
Watch your testimony. Speak, write, and conduct yourself in a manner worthy of our Savior’s sacrifice. Show respect and integrity in everything you say and do. Above all, be a person of your word. Remain faithful and unwavering. Never compromise the truth, rather speak it in love.
By the same token, we too will be impacted (left with a mark) not only by the people who invest in our lives but by those who verbally and tangibly show us their appreciation. When you are sought after, looked up to, or spoken highly of that doesn’t mean you are being worshiped but rather appreciated. It means that you are deemed important enough in someone’s life to cause them to single you out. It means that your character and your emotional/spiritual stability have served as a source of strength and hope for those who have been new in their faith or weak or broken in spirit. However, we will not always be of a “blessing” to everyone in our path, especially to those who oppose the Gospel and our moral convictions. Nevertheless, we are to remain strong, unwavering, and committed not only because our testimony depends on it but also the faith and eternal destiny of those who God places in our path [read When You Are Needed The Most].
There may come a day, however, that like the old Cape Henry Lighthouse we will no longer be able to stand as strong, shine as bright and easily guide others to (spiritual) safety as we did in our younger years. In other words, we’ll be “decommissioned.” But, the legacy we leave behind will continue to shine as a testimony of God’s grace, favor, and faithfulness. God may even allow us to look back and witness the difference we’ve made in other people’s lives. Their testimony about us will be like the etched names on the base of the old Cape Henry Light.
Who has left a mark on your life? Whose life has been marked by yours? Who has or will benefit from your faithfulness to God? Who will mark your lighthouse foundation with words of gratitude and honor? Of course, we are to give ALL glory to God, but Christians are also called to give honor to whom honor is due. So, don’t reject the mark of those who thank God for you, and don’t hold back from doing the same. Leaving a good mark is an admirable seal of appreciation and a powerful personal tribute. It is the evidence of a life-changing legacy.
Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, Thank you for trusting me to be an extension of your mercy and grace to all those you place in my path. May my life be a true reflection of who you are so that the impact I make in people’s lives would be one that is beneficial unto eternity. And thank you for those who have left a significant mark in my life. May the legacy I leave behind be one that testifies to your faithfulness and love. In the name of your precious Son, Jesus, I pray. Amen.
“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” -Galatians 6:1
“And we urge you, brothers, to admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, and be patient with everyone.” -1Thessalonians 5:14
“And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.” – Hebrews 13:16
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” -Galatians 6:10
“Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” -Deuteronomy 15:10
“Those who give generously receive more, but those who are stingy with what is appropriate will grow needy.” -Proverbs 11:24
“Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” –1 Peter 4:9 (ESV)
“In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness.” -Titus 2:7
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” -1 Timothy 4:12
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think on these things.” -Phillippians 4:4 (BSB)