On April 19, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln declared a naval blockade on all southern ports in retaliation for the attack on Fort Sumter, S.C., which started the Civil War. The Confederates responded by removing the lights from the lighthouses along the southern coastline, so they would not be an aid to the Union ships.

When I first learned of this action, I thought of the old adage “cutting off one’s nose to spite their face.” The Confederates’ action may have prevented their enemy from using the lighthouses, but it also did the same for their own ships, exposing them to hazards. For the next few years, the lighthouses sat dark and useless along the shore, unseen at night, and unable to carry out the duties for which they were designed.

There is a Bible verse that says, “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt. 5:16) Sometimes I wonder if my light is showing or if my light is out. If it’s out, then I’m not doing my job as a Christian. When I focus only on myself and my problems, I fail to see others and think of their needs.

Perhaps I need to check my light – did I do any good for anyone else today, did I say a kind word or were my actions negative instead?  After all, the light is for others to see, not for myself.

Keep your light shining!