I don’t know when I first heard the story of The Lighthouse. Here it is in case you have never heard it or need a reminder:
I once heard a story about a captain of a ship who looked into the dark night and saw faint lights in the distance. Without hesitation, the captain told his signalman to send a message: “Adjust your course 10 degrees south.” Instantly a return message came back: “Adjust your course 10 degrees north.” The captain was angry; his command had been ignored. So he sent a second message: “Adjust your course 10 degrees south—I am the captain!” Soon another message was received: “Adjust your course 10 degrees north—I am seaman third class Jones.” Immediately the captain sent a third message, knowing the fear it would arouse: “Adjust your course 10 degrees south—I am a battleship.” Then the reply came: “Adjust your course 10 degrees north—I am a lighthouse.”
Of course, the moral of this story can be applied to many different aspects of life. But, for me, it has always been about recognizing the need of adjusting our course to God.
This lesson has been lost on many today. One justification for this, spreading through our culture like wildfire, is the idea that the Bible is not applicable to our culture. This is very convenient, of course.
When I was a kid, my little brother and I would go down the street to a neighbor’s house and we would play Monopoly. I can’t remember the kid’s name now (I think it was Larry), but I can remember that when it was his turn he would choose the numbers he needed on the dice and hold them in such a way, maybe a centimeter above the board, so that when he released them from his hand the dice would land on the numbers he wanted. Pretty soon we were all doing it. Why? Because we wanted to win! In fact, growing up, I remember that we would sometimes adjust the rules so a player could stay in the game or so that more money was available when you landed on Free Parking. We did this because we were having fun and we didn’t want the rules to interrupt our fun.
This is being lived out in real time today. Our enjoyment of “the pursuit of happiness” is being hampered by the rule book, the Bible. So, it is being rewritten, retranslated, and reinterpreted in order to accommodate our fun. When that tactic doesn’t work, we simply say “it doesn’t apply to our culture; it is anachronistic.”
In the story we started with, it is assumed that when the Captain hears, “I am a lighthouse,” he realizes that he must adjust his course and does so immediately. In Western culture today, the Captain’s reply is different. He hears, “I am the lighthouse,” and his response is “I don’t believe in lighthouses” or “Lighthouses are out of date.”
What is also understood in the story is that, if the Captain refuses to adjust his course, his ship will founder on the rocks and be destroyed. The danger here is captains who don’t believe in lighthouses likely don’t believe in rocks either. But the rocks—the danger—is there whether we believe it or not.