Esopus Meadows Lighthouse, NY, photo by Kraig Anderson

“The lighthouse tender is coming!”

The announcement threw everyone from the keepers to their
families into action at the lighthouse. Anticipation mingled with anxiety with the news that the lighthouse supply boat was approaching.

Replenishment of fuel and food was necessary for the inhabitants of the lighthouse, so the tender was a welcome sight. Often, the boat brought added pleasures like mail and books. The lighthouse keepers’ children were especially excited to see what surprises the tender would bring.

On the other hand, sometimes the lighthouse tender brought the lighthouse inspector. After 1852, when Congress created the Light House Board, it assigned a naval inspector to each lighthouse district. These inspectors enforced regulations about the care and cleanliness of a lighthouse. Lenses had to be kept spotless to keep smoke and dust from impeding the light and brass had to be polished in the lantern room. The lighthouse tower also had to be clean and the paint in good condition.

In addition, the keeper’s quarters had to be immaculate and in good repair as well. The inspector would conduct a full tour of all the buildings to see that everything was in its proper place. He also performed a “white-glove” test to make sure no dust was evident on doors or windows and that floors were shined, even in closets. He looked in kitchen drawers, on shelves and in cabinets to make sure all was in order.

What added to the fear of the inspector’s arrival was that one never knew when he was coming. There was no warning, no announcement – he just showed up sometimes on the supply boat. Obviously, to be prepared for inspection, the keepers and their families couldn’t wait until they knew whether he was on board or not to start getting ready. If things weren’t already in order, it would be too late.

Just days before Jesus was crucified, he warned his disciples that there would be another time when he would return to claim the believers and punish the world for its sin. He told them to be on guard, to be prepared, because no one knew when that Second Coming would happen. Would you be ready if he came back today? Or would you need more time to “get your house  in order?” You might not have any more time.

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Matthew 24:42, 44