In 1970 the teenage son of a Pastor from California emerged triumphantly from the basement of The Pentecostal Tabernacle church. His family was scheduled to sing there that evening and realized they needed more material. Ronnie had excused himself for several minutes and returned carrying a trail of toilet tissue. On that unceremonious paper, were the lyrics to a brand-new song titled, “The Lighthouse.” After a little refinement in collaboration with his brother Kenny, the song was first recorded by The Happy Goodman’s and later by Elvis Presley.
Since that time, thousands of groups and soloists around the world have performed the song – including me. Although Ronnie Hinson has written many chart busting songs since that time, none have reached the awards, accolades and success of “The Lighthouse.”
The song compares Jesus to a lighthouse which guides us through tumultuous life waves to the safety of shore. The song reminds me that we too are called the light of the world:
“You are the light of the world – like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden” – Matthew 5:15 NLT
We are called to reflect the light of Christ and to warn people about the dangers of the shallow waters and jagged rocks. The preceding verse, calls us salt (a flavor enhancer and preservative) and warns us that if we lose our saltiness we aren’t good for anything. By implication, the same is true if the color of our light changes.
Sometimes, it is hard to distinguish between God and good. Sometimes we think we are doing good, but completely miss God. The bible warns us, that “all of our righteousness are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6) It is not enough to shine our own light, we must always reflect His.
Today, many well-meaning people are trying to shine their own light; they are trying to do good and help people. While this is admirable, it is also ultimately impossible. Jesus is the only one who can save. We can only be fruitful when we are connected to the Vine. (John 15:4) There are no potted plants in the Kingdom of God. We are either connected to the source of life, or we are not.
Many modern ministers and ministries think that the way to win people to Christ is to relate to them in their sin. The problem is, sinners don’t need us to be the way they are, and to live the way they live. If the way things are had worked, they wouldn’t see a need for Jesus.
Perry Stone once relayed an encounter with a famous Hollywood Actor. The Actor said he grew tired of Pastor’s trying to act like him – drinking wine at lunch and such – in order to get him to come to their church. He said what he needed, was someone who acted and lived differently to show and tell him that God had a better way. Fortunately the actor found that Pastor, and lives for Jesus today.
As we consider the story of “The Lighthouse” and our responsibility to be Jesus to the world, let us remember that if our light draws people toward the danger instead of away from it, our lighthouse is defective.
For your enjoyment and encouragement, here is a video of the incomparable Kenny Hinson singing “The Lighthouse” with his family before he went home to be with Jesus. Lyrics follow.
By: Ronnie Hinson
There’s a lighthouse on the hillside
That overlooks life’s sea.
When I’m tossed it sends out a light,
Tis a light that I might see.
And the light that shines in darkness now
Will safely lead us o’er.
If it wasn’t for the lighthouse,
My ship would be no more.
Everybody that lives around us
Says tear that lighthouse down.
The big ships don’t sail this way anymore,
There’s no use of it standing around.
Then my mind goes back to that stormy night,
When just in time I saw the light;
Yes the light from that old lighthouse
That stands up there on the hill.
And I thank God for the lighthouse,
I owe my life to Him.
For Jesus is the lighthouse
And from the rocks of sin;
He has shone a light around me
That I could clearly see,
If it wasn’t for the lighthouse
Tell me where would this ship be.