A “Stay Away” Lighthouse or a “Come Here” Lighthouse?
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
The Outer Banks, a string of islands off the coast of North Carolina, boasts a chain of lighthouses from the northernmost tip to the farthest south.
The purpose of these lighthouses is to warn mariners of shifting shoals that are hazardous to ships. In fact, thousands of ships and unknown numbers of lives have met their demise in the area, giving it the name, “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” More than 5,000 ships have sunk in these waters since record keeping began in 1526.
Some of the tallest lighthouses along the east coast are located on the Outer Banks – Currituck, Bodie Island, Cape Lookout and Cape Hatteras (tallest on the east coast). Still active aids to navigation, their light beams extend over eighteen miles into the Atlantic. Their message, “Stay away!”
But just a short distance to the southwest of Cape Hatteras is another lighthouse, much shorter than its peers. The Ocracoke Island Light, only 65 feet tall, is also the oldest of the Outer Banks lighthouses, first lit in 1823. It is also the second oldest continually operating lighthouse in the United States.
Ocracoke Lighthouse, photo by Chuck Turk
Unique in its size, the Ocracoke Light is also unique in its purpose, built to guide ships into the Ocracoke Inlet, once a busy shipping area when it was the most navigable channel into Pamlico Sound and several important ports on the North Carolina coast.
Built on the highest part of the island, its stationary beam is visible 14 miles and 360 degrees. It’s message, “Here’s the channel. Come here!”
These lighthouses share an important common purpose – to guide – either away or to. Mariners learned to appreciate this guidance, knowing it was for their benefit the lights were built.
In the same way, God’s Word guides us – either away from danger or to safety. Shouldn’t we appreciate that guidance as well?
“Your Word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Psalm 119:105