I suppose I knew that I was stressed and in need of a break, but it was not until I sat on the steps overlooking the water, feeling the cool air of the night, that I even began to understand just how fully that was true. Dana and I both have worked way too many hours in the past year; harder than ever, really, and we have not taken nearly enough time off. The results have been good on everything but our health and mental well-being.

That has suffered a bit.

Smelling the salt air, I closed my eyes and concentrated on the sound of the ocean waves washing up onto the beach. I could feel the tension leaving my arms and legs, though the chest was and still is a bit tight.

Opening my eyes, I murmured, “The most important thing I can do this week is rest.”

And then the light from the lighthouse flashed again, four quick flashes. It had been doing that the entire time, but only at that moment did it finally sufficiently intrude into my consciousness to garner my full attention.

Four more quick flashes. Every ten seconds, four one-second flashes. I quickly grabbed my phone, and within moments had learned something that I suppose I should have already known: Every lighthouse in the world has its own distinct flash pattern. You could blindfold a man, drop him into the water off of any coast, and when he pulled off the blindfold, if he knew the flash patterns of the lighthouses of the world, he would immediately know exactly where he was.

The distinctive light pattern of the lighthouse is designed both to let you know where the lighthouse is, and also where you are. In so doing you would know exactly where the dangerous shoals and currents are and how much if any trouble you are in.

I knew a column, and probably an entire sermon, was soon to come.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” The written Word of God, the Bible, is every bit as distinctive of a light as any lighthouse on earth and for the exact same reason. Anyone looking carefully at that light will not only know where the light source is on any given subject, he will also know where he himself is at on the same subject, and how much if any trouble he is in.

A good many years ago a precious young couple started visiting our church. They got saved, and continued to come to church each week, absorbing everything we taught. They were not “churchy” at all; they were living together and thought nothing of it.

All of our folks just continued to love them and pray for them.

They came to me one day and asked to join the church. So we sat down to talk, and as God opened the door, I took my Bible and showed them what God said about their current situation. Both of them said, “Wow, we had no idea! But if that is what the Bible says, that is the way we want to do it.”

And so I counseled them for a number of weeks, married them, and they became wonderful members of the church. It was not my opinion or speaking ability that changed things; it was the distinctive, clear light of God’s Word that, when seen, recognized, and heeded, changed everything.

On any subject, that light is what shows people where they are, what dangers are present, and how to get safely to where they need to be. God gave us that precious book for our benefit. This new year would be a wonderful time for God’s people to become personally reacquainted with it, reading it daily, studying it, and applying it.

And for those who have taken the time to read this column to the end, I have a bit of fun for you. If you can figure out from the flash pattern what lighthouse I described at the beginning of this column, email me your answer. I will put all of the correct ones into a pot, draw out five names, and send each of you one of my books as a gift.

Good luck, and may God bless you in the new year!

Bo Wagner is pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Mooresboro, N.C. He is a widely traveled evangelist and the author of several books. He can be reached by email at 2knowhim@cbc-web.org.

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