The Lower Lights

When my husband’s health was declining and I was visiting him at the hospital, I would see other patients in waiting rooms or in their beds and think about what they must be suffering. Some of them, especially the very aged, would be lying there all alone, day after day. I visited the hospital daily for about a month, and no one ever came to see them. No one cared enough to come.

Then I would look out the window of my husband’s hospital room, out to the highway where cars were rushing back and forth, and I would think about poor, lost humanity—so many lonely, sorrowful people, so many broken hearts.

I realized then how much everyone—whether dying or rushing through life—needed God’s love and mercy. I realized, too, how much God needed us to point people to His heart of love. It reminded me of this hymn, which I would sometimes sing to my husband, sitting at his bedside:

Brightly beams our Father’s mercy
From His lighthouse evermore,
But to us He gives the keeping
Of the lights along the shore.

Let the lower lights be burning,
Send a gleam across the wave.
Some poor fainting, struggling seaman,
You may rescue, you may save.

Dark the night of sin has settled,
Loud the angry billows roar;
Eager eyes are watching, longing,
For the lights along the shore.

Trim your feeble lamp, my brother,
Some poor sailor, tempest tossed
Is trying now to make the harbor,
And in darkness may be lost. 1

God, His Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are the upper lights, but we are the lower lights along the shore. God has entrusted us with some sacred responsibilities—things that should have the first priority in our life. Lots of things demand our attention, and there is so little time for them all. If we’re not careful, we may put off or miss what is truly important. What a blessing you could be to your family and neighbors—your “neighbor” being anyone God puts in your path who needs His love and your love, anyone He wants to love and help through you.

  1. “The Lower Lights,” music and lyrics by Philip P. Bliss, 1838–1876