Location: Harbor, Freeport, ME
Isaiah 9:1–2 (NKJV)
9......, By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, In Galilee of the Gentiles. 2 The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light; Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, Upon them a light has shined.
An image has to be absolutely, precisely sharp to stand up to the extreme cropping that was required for this one. Having only 140mm of focal length available, only a monopod to stabilize the shot and standing on a vibrating, slightly moving ship's deck, that level of sharpness was most likely impossible. But that old light house was too interesting to pass up. To make up for the original image I have recast it into a stylized version reminiscent of a water-colored painting. Maybe you will judge it at least passable.
The demanding reality of the harbor makes it very clear why a light-house was needed here. Look at those rocks... put yourself in the mind of a long-ago mariner, standing on a much smaller ship. Imagine the waves easily towering over him when he dips into the trough such that the dim light that winked occasionally from the rain obscured horizon was only possible when he perched momentarily on the crests. It was hard to read the charts in those conditions, with only the dim light of an oil lamp to illumine it and they weren't all that reliable anyway. That light was all he had. He knew if he approached it on a certain bearing then he would be "in the channel" and those scary rock outcroppings would slush by without harming him or his ship. But if that magnetic compass was off by a few degrees... or he lost sight of that light for very long... that he was trying to thread a needle while blind-folded. That light was his only hope... his only salvation... It was the object of his total focus.
How many desperate souls were saved by that light? How many did it guide into the calmer waters of the inner harbor? How many thanked God for its beams as they moored their vessel in safety as they finally were able to collapse into their "rack" (a sailor's term for his bed) and try to settle his hyper-excited nerves? There is no question that not everyone made it. The potential for disaster was just too great even if the light was visible. But if the light had not shown no one seeking that harbor could have been saved from those terrible waves and pounding surf. The people sailing in great darkness saw a great light.
This passage from Isaiah is directly applied by Matthew to the Lord Jesus Christ as He began His ministry in Galilee. His preaching and teaching and His very Person were that light shining in the darkness and storm clouds of hopelessness and oppression of His people. He came as the Child that was born to them... the One on whose shoulders the government would rest... He was their Wonderful Counselor, their Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. He was the King who was to sit on the throne of David and over his Kingdom forever and ever. He was the one who would guide them into safe harbor and who would heal the pain in their souls and settle the fears in their hearts. It was the zeal of the Lord to establish this.
And what was true for those in Galilee of the Gentiles is yet true today. Unlike the rusting remains of that old light in the harbor, His light still shines brightly... He still remains the central focus of His people as they fix their eyes on Him and take the bearings on their lives in reference to Him. And all who place their hope in Him are never disappointed... their hope is vindicated... their perseverance is rewarded in that they will find their resting place and security.
This is the Light that shines in the darkness and shows us the way home.