Philip Paul Bliss was directing the singing for a series of services being conducted by the well-known preacher Dwight L. Moody. As he closed his message, Moody told the story of a captain who was attempting to bring his boat to the Cleveland harbor one very dark and stormy night.
The waves rolled like mountains, Moody said, and not a star was to be seen in the clouded sky. He pictured the boat rocking on the violent waves as the captain peered through the darkness for the sight of a signal light by means of which to guide his vessel to safety. When he finally spotted a single light from the light-house, he turned to the pilot and asked:
“Are you sure this is Cleveland harbor?”
“Quite sure, sir,” the pilot replied.
“Then where are the lower lights?” the captain continued.
“Gone out, sir,” the other man answered.
“Can you make the harbor?” the captain asked anxiously.
“We must, or perish, sir,” the pilot replied.
But despite his strong heart and brave hand, in the darkness he missed the channel. With a resounding crash the boat piled up on the rocks and then settled slowly to a watery grave.
As the congregation listened intently, Moody concluded with this admonition to the Christians:
“Brethren, the Master will take care of the great light-house; let us keep the lower lights burning.”
That was all Bliss needed to pen one of his most popular hymns, “Let the Lower Lights Be Burning.”
The storms of life are real, and put many around us in peril. They may long to approach the light of “our Father’s mercy” but are unsure how to navigate the obstacles in their way. We all know how they feel, because each of us has been lost at sea from time to time.
Most often, God uses us to rescue them. Today, let me be the lower light.