The other day I happened across this news item that reported that a “sparkplug” lighthouse had just sold for “six figures.” Now, lighthouses have an undeniable allure. I’ve written about them before. They are beacons of hope, safety, and identity. Not a few churches call themselves “The Lighthouse” because we see Jesus in the same light (pun intended).
But the story from October 2 doesn’t conjure that kind of enduring imagery. No, this is about a stumpy little lighthouse built in the water (there’s no yard or seawall), derelict from years of rough weather with little or no maintenance. The sales pitch goes on to say that it “has an outer ladder but no nearby dock for a boat to moor. A 2019 inspection also found lead-based paint, asbestos, benzene and other dangerous substances inside, where there is no water, electricity or other utilities.”
And somebody wants to buy this? No, five people wanted to buy it. When the GSA put it up for auction, the opening bid was $15,000. Now, I’m not sure I would pay $15,000 for a hole in the water into which you would just pour money (wait, that’s a boat, right?). But five people were willing to pay good money for it. Regular house-type money for it. Five people bid against each other on the online auction site, raising the ultimate purchase price to $192,000. Almost $200K for a place that you were only allowed to inspect from afar, the Navy restricts access to, and must remain a navigational aid. And, did I mention, no running water? If you want to look it up, it’s called the Hooper Island Lighthouse.
I understand the romance of owning a lighthouse. A secluded private oasis (so to speak) where you could bring friends and enjoy the ocean. And the allure of a lighthouse just given to you by the government (yes, they actually give some away) sounds interesting. But $192K for an inaccessible derelict eyesore?
A couple of things come to mind. I find great solace in the thought that God finds me worth investing in. Spiritually, I need as much work as Hooper Island, and physically, I probably need as much work, too. And yet Jesus died to rescue me. Pretty amazing. God loves us even though we need a lot of work. We can be inaccessible to Him much of the time, and we, like Hooper Island, come with strings attached. And He loves us anyway!
Why? Because, like the new owner of the little sparkplug lighthouse (this is conjecture on my part, the new owner is not known yet), God sees us for who we were originally intended to be and can see we already haven’t reached our full potential. God sees us for who we can be, not just who we’ve been.
I found it crazy that you couldn’t inspect the place. How do you invest close to $200K for something you don’t know how bad it is? You know, it’s interesting. God does this for us. It matters not how derelict we are, God purchases us anyway (Galatians 3:13). But on the other end of the deal, God does not demand that we just take Him. “Taste and see” says the Psalmist, giving the impression that we can inspect, that we can experience the goodness of God before we buy into it. “Come and see” Jesus said to Andrew, not demanding anything of him.
Now, following in God’s way ultimately demands more than a roughed-up lighthouse in Chesapeake Bay. God wants all of us. But we don’t go unadvisedly. We can see and learn and feel God’s attributes before we commit. And, well, God has a lot more to offer than a solitary “sparkplug” in the water. God is good in every way. His yoke is easy (Mt 11:30), and goodness and mercy follows (Ps 23:6) us when we give ourselves to Him. It’s a pretty good deal. Unlike the lighthouse in Maryland.
Grateful for grace and lighthouses,
Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8