I have a friend whose acquaintance made me excited. One summer as our family ministered from Nova Scotia to Ohio, we saw 186 lighthouses in less than two months. I decided to visit lighthouses and lifeboat stations to learn more about “sending the light” and “throwing out the lifeline.”
Another year we were in Minnesota and took a side trip along the northwestern coast of Lake Superior just to visit the famous Split Rock Lighthouse. This light tower with its majestic setting on top of Split Rock has been featured hundreds of times in pictures on the front of church bulletins. I believe it to be among the ten most recognized lighthouses in America.
When I met my friend in Virginia Beach, so far from Minnesota, I was nearly tingling with excitement to not just meet someone who had seen that famous lighthouse many decades ago, but was, in fact, the grandchild of the famous lighthouse keeper of Split Rock. She actually LIVED at the lighthouse!
What are the odds that I would have the privilege, after all these years, to meet someone who had lived at that lonely lighthouse which at that time did not even have a road built along the rugged coast to the lighthouse?
The Lord has promised to give us the desires of our heart if we would delight ourselves in Him. He has proven this verse to me over and over again. I can go on for a long time telling stories of how God has specifically given me the desires of my heart as I have served Him. Not only did I get to visit this grand lighthouse up on that high cliff, but God has allowed me to make friends with a lady who called that classic location her childhood home.
Once, an incident occurred in the light tower that a novice and even many keepers would not understand. Every lighthouse has its own unique flash. The color may vary, the light may be constant, or it may periodically be eclipsed or flash. Since the lamp gives out a constant light, scores of lighthouses have traditionally been made to flash by having a metal framework of lenses that rotate around the lamp. As the bull’s eye of each lens spins around the light, it produces a flash to observers at a distance from the tower.
In the case of the Split Rock Tower, this heavy frame that holds the glass lenses was in part floated on a circular trough or gutter that was filled with mercury. The mercury is very dense and would help to keep the frame from touching the trough. This would minimize the friction and keep the frame free to move.
One night, the frame would not rotate and the keeper (or his assistant) determined that there was not enough mercury in the trough to keep the frame afloat. They ordered more mercury which had to come by boat and remedied the situation. It is possible that the one who figured out the problem was my friend’s father or grandfather.
The following is a poem that explains my friend’s role at this well-known lighthouse:
*SPLIT ROCK IS A LIGHTHOUSE*
by Evangelist Dan Manka
- My grandpa had been the keeper
At the Split Rock Light.
He faithfully kept the light burning
All through the dark night.
The light was built up on the cliff
On Superior’s rugged shore
To shine its faithful beacon
Where there had been none before. (chorus)
Split Rock is a lighthouse
That is known where e’er I roam,
But it is not just a lighthouse
It once had been my home.
- Cranes were used to lift the stones
To build the lighthouse walls.
A beam now shines from that old rock
Out on the lake it falls.
Once the lenses did not rotate.
They failed for every boat.
The trough was low on mercury
That caused the glass to float. (chorus)
- I miss my days on old Split Rock.
I miss my grandpa, too.
I miss standing atop the cliff
To look out at the view.
The light still shines atop the rock.
Cars come there now by road,
But I will always remember it
As my childhood’s fond abode. (chorus)
What an amazing heritage my friend has! Her family kept the light shining at one of the most famous lighthouses in America. They may be personally responsible for stopping many shipwrecks from happening. They provided safe navigation for thousands of boats and ships over the years. They were a comfort to tens of thousands of people on the lake who saw their light and knew that someone was helping to keep them safe and helping them to find their safe harbor.
What a heritage many Christians have to know that their family members have been soul winners for decades! They have let their light shine for others to see the way to our God. They have played their part in helping sinners on life’s sea to keep from being spiritually shipwrecked. They have helped to guide lost souls to the Haven of Rest, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Oh, that we would be a part of such a godly heritage in our family! May we live our lives in such a way that we are constantly pointing others to Christ. May we in a spiritual way be like my friend who can say, “I lived at the lighthouse!
Above: My friend’s grandpa, the keeper of Split Rock Lighthouse.