Lighthouses, Lenses, & Stairs

Lighthouses, Lenses, & Stairs

Yesterday I had the great privilege of spending time with my wife and daughters at a place called the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse and Museum. We were there because Emma Grace and Ella Jay had a classroom field trip planned for the day and, quite honestly, we couldn’t have asked for a more pleasant day to walk around an outdoor Florida landmark. 

Each of us knew that once we slapped on our admission wristbands (the 1990’s yellow florescent coloring brought me back to rollerskating and this) we’d eventually have to scale a 175 foot lighthouse. We broke off in groups so I went with Emma Grace and Momma Tyler traveled with Ella Jay. The first spot we toured was a building filled with history about lighthouse lenses.

The Fresnel Lens

Our tour guide explained to us the importance of lenses and their progression in history. He shared with us that before the Fresnel lens was created it’s estimated that over 44 million ships launched out to sea only to crash upon land. Sailors never feared the water, it’s the shore that held the gravest danger. Lighthouses where raised to warn weary sailors of danger and gave them hope of safe harbor during storms. The earliest towers used oil burning lamps that produced solid, steady light without any movement.  The flames would burn openly causing them to lose nearly 97% of its light. This made it difficult for mariners to distinguish one light from another, often causing confusion and dangerous conditions for passing ships. Until the Fresnel lens.

Augustine Jean Fresnel believed that by taking rays of light that would normally scatter in all directions and bending them, they could reflect a moveable and far more focused single beam. A light that would shine continuously for miles. This new lens design would revolutionize lighthouse optics and save the lives of sailors around the world. 

203 Steps to the Top

The next stop on the tour was the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. Our new guide explained that we’d need to take 203 steps to reach the top of the lighthouse where the lens was located. Emma Grace and I are always down for a challenge so we both took off up the the stairs with a competitive spirit. About halfway through we started to feel our legs turn into jelly and I’m pretty sure someone was sucking the air out of the place. Once we gathered back our composure (mostly me, Emma Grace was just fine) we made our way up to the top. As we stood in awe of the landscape and view from the tower I couldn’t help but think deeply about the Gospel of Jesus.

No More Climbing 

Each and every one of us is sailing through this life just hoping not to crash. Yes, every one of us! We’ve probably seen a lighthouse or two but the flame coming from it is flickering and dim at best. Maybe you’ve seen a lighthouse that seems full of light and you ran up its stairs just to leave with trembling legs and exhaustion because the lens at the top took constant upkeep. Why wouldn’t you grow weary and seasick when you’re being tossed around in a great ocean with no hope for safety? 

But there is a lighthouse with a lens that’s revolutionary. It doesn’t grow dim and we don’t ever have to climb any stairs to get to its light. In fact, it’s taking in all the tired, flickering lights (me and you) that would scatter and its bending them (us) back out into darkness bringing hope and safety for all the weary sailors (everyone around us)! 

The gospel is a lighthouse and Jesus is the fresnel lens calling all of us weary sailors in for rest and safety from the burdens of the sea. 

Wherever there’s darkness and dangerous terrain, let us build lighthouses wherever we go; together… #TeamBlevins

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