Summary: We, as believers have experienced the light and know how wonderful it is to be in the light. But for many, darkness is all they have ever known.
In the nineteenth century, lighthouses on the U.S. coasts were tended by lighthouse keepers and their families. If a man who tended the light took ill or became disabled, often the work was the picked up by his wife or children. This was the case of Hosea Lewis. In 1853, Lewis became the keeper of the light on Lime Rock Island in Rhode Island. Just four years later he suffered a stroke and his teenage daughter Ida assumed responsibility for the light. Each day included cleaning the reflectors, trimming the wick, and filling the oil reservoir at sunset and midnight, along with providing for her father’s care.
Because of the long and demanding tasks, Ida was unable to continue her schooling, but daily delivered her siblings to class, whatever the weather, by rowing the 500 yards to the mainland.
In the mid-1800s, it was unusual to see a woman maneuvering a boat, but Ida became well-known for her ability to handle the heavy boat. The teenager gained a measure of fame at age sixteen when she rescued four young men after their boat capsized. She rowed to their aid, hearing their screams as they clung to their overturned craft. On March 29, 1869, Ida saved two drowning servicemen from nearby Fort Adams.
Public knowledge of Ida’s courage spread as far as Washington, inspiring President
Ulysses S. Grant to visit Ida at Newport later that year. Ida rescued two more soldiers in
In early February of 1881. The two soldiers were crossing from Newport to Lime Rock Island on foot when the ice gave way. Ida, the lighthouse keeper, came running with a rope, ignoring peril to herself from the weakened ice, pulling the soldiers to safety.
For such an act of bravery and sacrifice, Ida was awarded the U.S. Lifesaving Service’s highest medal.
All told, Ida Lewis personally rescued some 25 people in fifty-plus years as keeper of the light.
Her last reported rescue came at age 63 when she saved a friend who had fallen into the water on her way to visit Ida on the island.
Asked where she found strength and courage for such a feat, Ida answered: ’I don’t know, I ain’t particularly strong. The Lord Almighty gives it to me when I need it, that’s all.’
Ida Lewis was a faithful steward. But the reason she was so faithful in her task is that she realized there would always be people who needed to be rescued.
Ida was a dedicated keeper of the light. Could I say that of myself, today? Could you, honestly say that you are as dedicated to keeping the light of Jesus and rescuing the perishing as Ida was in keeping the light on lime Rock Island? Ida was 63 when she made her last reported rescue. This tells me that we’re never too old to rescue the perishing.
We retire from work but we can never retire from being the light.
We’ve seen several things in these verses, so far. We’ll look at one more today.
1. The Place of Ministry: look at verse 14 and let’s see where the light is to shine.