Aunt Sylvia was a devoted Southern Baptist and she always took me to Sunday school on those summer Sundays. I remember sometimes not wanting to go, wishing to stay in my usual bathing suit and T-shirt attire roaming the beach, fishing or swimming. But I couldn't tell here no, she was so special to me and besides, Mom made it clear that I was going.
I remember in Sunday school singing that little Sunday school praise, "This little light of mine, I'm gonna' let it shine, let it shine, let it shine, let it shine." Now I must confess that as a youngster I didn't really take in the full value of the words, but I know that every time I was in a darkened room with a candle I remembered it as I marveled at the power of the candlelight. Being on the often stormy Atlantic coast in tropical season, it wasn't unusual for us to need that candlelight frequently with the many storms that came our way.
I also was fortunate to be told the stories of my long departed great-grandfather, Peter Gregory Gallop, the Keeper of Bodie Island Light for twenty-eight years. Grandma Martha, his daughter and Mom's mother, told it best. She made it clear that no matter what the weather or condition, my great-grandfather had to climb the steps morning and night to make sure that it would burn and turn. Its purpose was sending it's comforting beacon of hope in darkness to those who might be lost or trying to confirm their location in the dangerous waters toward the northern end of the Graveyard of the Atlantic.
As I grew into adulthood and began serious study of the Bible, the meaning of the Light became very clear to me. The Light referred to is the Light of the World, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And at this time and as a long time Sunday school teacher, the Light of Life is ever present in the Bible studies presented and in so many things I see in God's beautiful nature. It certainly makes sense, for Jesus brings Light to our world and removes us from the darkness that the Fallen Angel is always trying to surround us with. The Light is the Life, Everlasting Life and only by following the Light can we escape the dreadful fate that would otherwise engulf us.
As I grow older, I think of my blessed, now deceased aunt often and the stories about Great-granddad Peter at Bodie Island, and I am so thankful that I had those wonderful summers with her and my family at one of the most beautiful places on earth, the North Carolina Atlantic shore. The light of a lantern on a stormy night, or viewing a beautiful lighthouse brightening a frightening, stormy sea, are great examples of how light can overcome darkness and comfort anyone concerned during a rough night. They are nothing, however, compared to Light of Hope that the Lord promises us if only we keep our hearts attuned through faith in Him. I look forward eagerly to that time when all of the faithful will come together at the feet of our Savior. It will be wonderful beyond our wildest dreams, that's for sure.
"When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be! When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!" Refrain from When We All Get to Heaven, words by Eliza Hewitt, music by Emily Wilson, 1898