Friday, July 23, 2010

Pastor's Perspective - The Lighthouse

If I had a dollar for every time I used the term “If I had a dollar” I’d have a lot of dollars! Seriously, if I had a dollar for every time someone came into my office over the last six years and commented on my wall hanging, I’d have a sweet slush fund.

When we first came to FCC, my amazing wife helped me remodel my office (something I’m very ready to do again). We ventured over to Emeryville to the Mecca of affordable and contemporary furniture goodies and accessories – IKEA. There we found the print that I have looked at almost daily for over half a decade.

Practicing an open-door policy (except on my Tuesday sermon prep ‘cave days’), I enjoy the spontaneity of guests that drop in for a quick hug, “How’s it going?”, and prayer. Whether sitting or standing, guests always comment on at least one of two things – my many photographs of family and friends, and, the large print on my wall. “I love that. Is that a painting or a photograph? Did the guy in the picture survive? He looks so calm. I’d be scared to death. I think I’ve seen this print before. Really neat.” I have to admit, though it’s a fixture in my daily life as pastor, I still find myself looking at it with wonderment, especially the tiny figure standing near the railing. Tired of just nodding in agreement at my guest’s observations, I spent some time recently getting the cold hard facts. Thanks Google!

The debate of whether the image is a painting or photograph is now officially over. It is an actual photograph, taken by 58-year-old French photographer Jean Guichard. (Hey, wasn’t that Ricky Bobby’s nemesis?). Guichard is known internationally for his extensive interest in and collection of lighthouse images around the world. In 1989, in the middle of a fierce Atlantic tempest, he rented a helicopter and flew to photograph La Jument, a lighthouse built in 1911, 300 yards off of Ushant Island, off the coast of Brittany (northwestern France). Trapped in the lighthouse, along with several others, was operator Theodore Malgorne. Intrigued and thinking the sound was a rescue helicopter, Malgorne courageously opened the door and stepped outside near the railing. Seeing that it was not help, but instead a nosey photographer, he stepped back inside the lighthouse and closed the door just in time. A massive wave engulfed the 101-year old lighthouse, captured in seven sequential photographs worth checking out at . To answer another guest question, the man was amazingly unharmed – but barely.

For years, I’ve thought, “That picture is a sermon. It’s a message my feeble words could never ever properly preach or convey.” It beautifully, but terrifyingly captures the ability to be shielded and safe in the midst of the worst tempest imaginable – an ever-present reality for many people I know, love and pastor.

Though I don’t think I could ever properly capture this image in a sermon, there is a Bible verse that captures Guichard’s famous frame perfectly – ‘The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe’ – Proverbs 18:10.

Friends, the name of the Lord is Jesus Christ. Only He offers you true peace inside as everything around you is crashing.

In the photo, He isn’t the angry wave, the helpless Malgorne, or the voyeuristic Guichard.

Jesus is the lighthouse.

Is He yours?


Nicky Peterson said...

WOW! I love this post!! Thank you for the reminder!

And the link! AMAZING!!

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