1999 Thomas Kinkade, Media Arts Group Inc., San Jose,
have always lived within sight of the
Lighthouse.My parents chose to dwell there, as had theirparents before them, and growing up I cannotremember a time when my searching look wasnot met by the Lighthouse's searching beam.
have always lived within sight of the
My parents chose to dwell there, as had their
parents before them, and growing up I cannot
remember a time when my searching look was
not met by the Lighthouse's searching beam.
o I began crafting a boat. I kept my plans secret,
though I occasionally noticed concerned glances from my parents when I would
steal away to sand the sides of the craft, shape the curve of the stern, craft
the secret compartments that would store my personal treasures. Nothing pleased
me more than feeling the grains of the coarse wood in my hands, knowing that my
boat would carry me away to whatever destiny I chose.
I was a young man when I finished the boat. I saw the way it gleamed with
its fresh paint, not a stray mark or a single blemish. Perfect.
The evening finally came when my increasingly strong will was matched and
beckoned by an increasingly strong wind, blowing out to sea. Wasting no more
time, I loaded all my earthly possessions into my boat. I beamed with pride as
I revealed the magnificent craft to my family.
"Isn't she lovely?" I asked, only to see them look upon it with heaviness in
"She's capable of handling any storm that old sea can throw at her. I know.
I built her myself."
Still, they said nothing. Instead they looked up to the Lighthouse, then to
me, then back to the Lighthouse.
I pushed off into the surf. Soon the horizon swallowed my family and the
Lighthouse from my view.
I steered around the jagged rocks and reefs as the storm gathered, darkness
fell and ominous thunder began to rumble. I remember thinking how fortunate it
was that I didn't have to return that way again. It was a difficult navigation
at dusk. It would be deadly in the dark.
By the time I cleared the rocks and set my sail, the storm had reached
frightening proportions. The waves smashing against the boat soon showered me
with dark, dank water. Frantically I bailed the unwelcome waves. I could taste
the despair of being lost at sea as plainly as I could taste the salt water
battering my face. Impending death had become my shipmate, and he waited for
the storm to overwhelm me. My possessions, once so dear to me, soon lost their
value, and I traded them to the sea for greater buoyancy. The trading ended
when my boat capsized, and I lost everything.
I can't explain what happened next without using the word miracle. It was as
if the eye of the storm passed over me just long enough to let me right the
boat, revealing its broken mast and single, dangling oar.
As the storm intensified again, I determined to use the lone oar as a paddle
and looked around to get my bearings. There was only darkness--and a dim light
in the distance. The Lighthouse.
Despite my unwavering drive to leave it behind, it still shone for me, its
Light offering me a clear path to safety. For the first time in a very long
time, I thanked God for the Lighthouse.
With renewed hope, I paddled feverishly toward the only Light in my life.
Instead of resenting it, I now celebrated its omnipresence and power, its
penetrating, revealing nature, its demand of my focused attention. The
qualities that in the past had made the Lighthouse repulsive to me were now
Just when it seemed I might make it back to shore on my own strength, my
boat hit the rocks. As the work of my hands splintered into a thousand pieces,
my drenched body sailed into the air, and I experienced one of those rare
moments where time seems more like eternity. There, at the end of my strength,
at the end of my ingenuity, at the end of my self, I called out to God to
rescue me. Then I was immersed in the cold, dark, deadly water. The taste of
salt and the pounding of the waves slipped away as I lost consciousness.
When I awoke, I was inside--I want you to understand--I was inside the
canning the room, I noticed familiar faces.I sawmy parents, who apparently had never left theshore but patrolled it faithfully there at the base of theLighthouse, praying I would return. I saw friends andacquaintances whose devotion to the Light of this placehad drawn my disdain and cynicism in the past.Now I understood, and was both sorry and thankfulfor their unwavering commitment.
canning the room, I noticed familiar faces.I saw
my parents, who apparently had never left the
shore but patrolled it faithfully there at the base of the
Lighthouse, praying I would return. I saw friends and
acquaintances whose devotion to the Light of this place
had drawn my disdain and cynicism in the past.
Now I understood, and was both sorry and thankful
for their unwavering commitment.
But not all the faces were familiar. Some had not been there when I began my
journey and had not known my parents or friends until they had aided in my
rescue. Yet their willingness to weather the storm, searching for those in
need, now bonded them together.
In the days and weeks following my rescue, I became intrigued with the
rescue patrol that combed the waterfront looking for miracles of grace, seeking
others like me. With regularity they would drag sputtering sailors and swimmers
and surfers from the waters and nurse them back to life, a new life given to
them by the Lighthouse.
So impressed was I by the courage and purpose of the rescue patrol that I
gave regularly of my time and treasure to help them continue. I cleaned the
brine from their boots, mended their tattered clothes and prepared hot soup for
their exhausted return. And over time I became one of the ones who cared
lovingly for the Lighthouse, keeping its glass panes clean, its structure
reinforced, its doorways and sidewalks well groomed and inviting.
One day I questioned Steve, who had assisted in my rescue.
"How much did you train to join the rescue patrol?" I asked. "It must be
nice to be part of such a small, elite team."
He stopped, and looked at me intently. "It's not supposed to be elite," he
said. "Or small." His eyes seemed to penetrate deep into my spirit.
"All who have been rescued are needed along the shore. There's a place there
for all of us." He glanced down, away. "But most choose to stay inside the
I was aghast. I found it hard to imagine that everyone could do the special
work to which these heroes had been called. I looked out the open door through
which Steve was about to walk and saw the raging wind and rain. Just as
lightning flashed across his tear-streaked face, Steve invited me to come with
him. He said he'd show me how I could help.
I broke free from his convicting gaze and stumbled back away from the door.
Flashing across my mind were images of stormy terror, my splintering boat and
endless dark water. I pictured desperate, clutching hands dragging me back into
the water and down to the depths with them. I shuddered, my soul literally
cowering inside me. It was the most fearful sense of oppression I had
experienced since awakening in the Lighthouse.
Steve looked at me with understanding and compassion, but sadness. Then
quickly, with urgency, he stepped out the door and raised his collar against
the howling wind. Turning back to me one more time he said, "Maybe tomorrow
then." He turned on his small light and strode boldly into the stormy darkness.
In that moment I loved and admired him. I just didn't think I could be like
I turned to find the others who stayed in the Lighthouse gazing thoughtfully
at me. They appeared sympathetic, like they wanted to help, but both they and I
knew they couldn't. I hurried off to be alone and found myself at the base of
the long spiral staircase that led to the beacon tower. The rescue patrol spent
a lot of time up there, and since they were now combing the shores, I knew I
could climb and be alone.
I passed the equipment and storage rooms and reached the beacon platform a
I had never been this close to the Light that had saved my life before, and
it was not what I expected. Instead of being hot and harsh and unapproachable,
I found the Light soft and warm and inviting. I paused with reverence as I
remembered this Light was my personal Savior.
I noticed a pair of binoculars hanging on a bent nail. I took them and
raised them to my eyes, adjusting their powerful focus to my own imperfect
vision, which is peculiarly shortsighted in one eye and farsighted in the
other. From the Lighthouse's vast illumination and towering perspective I could
now see miles and miles, from the rocky coastline out to the storm-tossed sea.
Down on the beach I saw a handful of smaller, swarming lights. I wondered which
one was Steve.
0What I saw then shocked my eyes, broke my heart and awakened my spirit. As
I looked out to the vast sea illuminated by the Lighthouse, I saw hundreds, no,
thousands of floundering souls gasping for air and going under for the second
and third times. There were shattered boats and grounded shipwrecks, people
hanging on to slippery buoys and swimming in the wrong direction. Some, like
me, had seen the Lighthouse and seemed to be swimming in the right direction.
But it was clear they wouldn't make it on their own.
In that moment, my vision of the world, myself, my purpose in life, the
Lighthouse--all changed. It didn't matter if I died. In a sense I had died
already that first stormy night, and since then I had found my only real
purpose in the Lighthouse.
But now I was discovering the purpose of the Lighthouse! It was salvation
for the floundering, lost humanity that was me before I was saved!
And there was work to be done.
darted into the equipment room. I knew Iwouldn't be much help to the drowning peopleunless I made some outward adjustments in equipmentto match the inward adjustment that had just takenplace in my heart. Intuitively I grabbed a rope, a lifepreserver, a raincoat, a whistle. I threw open the lid ofan old chest simply marked "lights," and was againtaken back by what I saw. It was full of engraved,personalized lights! Though each type of light wasdifferent, I recognized every name. They were thenames of my friends downstairs--the peoplewho stayed inside the Lighthouse.
darted into the equipment room. I knew I
wouldn't be much help to the drowning people
unless I made some outward adjustments in equipment
to match the inward adjustment that had just taken
place in my heart. Intuitively I grabbed a rope, a life
preserver, a raincoat, a whistle. I threw open the lid of
an old chest simply marked "lights," and was again
taken back by what I saw. It was full of engraved,
personalized lights! Though each type of light was
different, I recognized every name. They were the
names of my friends downstairs--the people
who stayed inside the Lighthouse.
Frantically, I fumbled through the chest looking for my name. There were
flashlights, lanterns, torches and floodlights. At last I caught the glimmer of
my name engraved in brass, and my heart leapt at the sight, then was puzzled.
It was a boat's headlight--for someone who no longer had a boat.
Feeling in my own heart the urgency I had sensed in Steve, I grabbed my
light and rushed down the stairs, out the door and into the night. I reached
the shore and hurried toward the first little light I saw. It was Steve. He
looked exhausted, but somehow strengthened by the sight of me.
"We're glad you're here," he shouted with joy over the noise of the storm.
"We've been praying for laborers. There are so many of them who are lost and so
few of us ..."
I had numerous questions to ask Steve and felt so inadequate, but all of
that paled in comparison to the need that was before us.
"I found my light!" I shouted back. "But I don't understand ..."
Steve looked at my headlight, then at me. His eyes were wide with awe and
"Come on, follow me!" he shouted. We ran up the beach a few hundred feet,
then Steve led me to a small sheltered spot protected by a large rock.
"We just found this tonight," he shouted. "We have no idea how it got
There, nestled and preserved by the rock, was my boat, or at least one just
like it. Without taking time to analyze, we mounted the headlight and threw the
rest of my equipment in the boat. Then Steve pushed me out to sea.
My life preserver, my rope and my boat helped me pull one, then two, then
four people out of the sea.
Back on shore, Steve and others helped them back to the Lighthouse that had
been their true salvation, and I returned for another load.
That night we helped rescue 12 people. I had never felt more afraid, more
alive, more significant and more purposefully active--until that night, and the
next one, and the next, as I took my permanent place on mission with the rescue
ne night on our way back to the Lighthouse,Steve and I marveled at the discovery of myboat and the way I had been uniquely prepared andequipped to actively join in the mission. I asked him ifhe had ever seen the trunk full of engraved lights. Hesaid he had, but only on that first night of awakeningwhen he discovered his own personal light. Each timehe had returned, he found only his light in the trunk.Yet one by one, he had watched others find their wayup the staircase, into the equipment room and ontothe shore.
ne night on our way back to the Lighthouse,
Steve and I marveled at the discovery of my
boat and the way I had been uniquely prepared and
equipped to actively join in the mission. I asked him if
he had ever seen the trunk full of engraved lights. He
said he had, but only on that first night of awakening
when he discovered his own personal light. Each time
he had returned, he found only his light in the trunk.
Yet one by one, he had watched others find their way
up the staircase, into the equipment room and onto
"But we need more help now!" I exclaimed. "Can't we go back and persuade the
others to come up the staircase and look inside the equipment room? Can't we
tell them they have unique lights that can help in the rescue?"
Steve smiled. "There are lots of ways people are drawn to the mission of the
rescue patrol. Some start in the equipment room, some come down to the shore
right away. Others see the misery of those lost at sea, like you did, from the
perspective of the Light. Right now there are more people who stay in the
Lighthouse than join in the rescue. But that seems to be changing. Sure, let's
go back and invite the whole Lighthouse crew to pick up their lights and join
us. But do you know what I've always found most effective?"
"What?" I asked, curious and a bit impatient to empty the Lighthouse onto
"The same three things that we did before you joined us tonight. We stay
close to the Lighthouse. We let our lights shine everywhere we go. And we pray
passionately for more lights to come down from the Lighthouse and join us at
Nate Adams is vice president of the Mobilization and Mission Education
Group of the North American Mission Board, SBC.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC